CONSUMERS in Metro Cebu will see a three-percent increase in their power bills starting September but those consuming 20 kilowatt hours (kWhr) or less will pay as low as P5 per month.

This was announced by Ricardo Lacson, Visayan Electric Co. (Veco) vice president for administration and consumer services group, during a press conference on the Performance Based Regulation (PBR) scheme set by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

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Ethel Natera, Veco corporate communications manager, said if a family is consuming 20 kWhr a month, it can avail of the 100-percent discount, and they will only be required

to pay Veco P5 as metering charge.

Natera said the ERC has allowed a three percent adjustment in Veco’s power rates starting Aug. 1 after taking into consideration the company’s asset base.

However the ERC has set conditions, in terms of service, which the power distribution firm should meet under the PBR scheme.

The three percent rate adjustment is equivalent to P44.16 for 150 kWhr consumption, P58.88 for 200 kWhr and P88.32 for 300 kWhr if there are no changes in the rates for power generation, power transmission and government revenues.

“The adjustment is what ERC says in an appropriate return on our investments to be viable to investors,” Natera said.

Lacson said 126,698 residential customers can avail themselves of the subsidy under the new consumption threshold and discounts levels.

PBR, Lacson said, is an internationally accepted alternative method of rate-making for electricity distribution where electricity prices are based on service levels.

In a press briefing at Casino Español de Cebu, Lacson said PBR has been successfully implemented in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, New Zealand, United Kingdom and United States.

All power utility firms in the country were ordered by ERC to apply for the PBR scheme.

ERC gave Veco a regulatory period starting July 1, 2010 to June 30, 2014. Every year for five years, the ERC will evaluate the performance of Veco based on the PBR components-–the System and Service Performance Targets (price-linked scheme) and the Guaranteed Customer Service Targets (GSLs).

On the price-linked incentive scheme, ERC set the following network performance measures for Veco--number of interruption lasting at least five minutes, average time to restore services per interruption, average duration of planned interruptions lasting at least five minutes, voltage must be between 90 and 110 percent of 230 volts monitored using voltage scanning equipment and technical (inherent in distribution equipment) and non-technical losses (pilferage, among others).

On GSLs, which are for individual customers, the ERC set the following targets for Veco--total duration of sustained service interruption in a regulatory year that exceeds the threshold, number of sustained service interruptions in a regulatory year that exceeds the threshold, restoration of supply to a customer after a fault on the secondary distribution network taking longer than the threshold time and customer connection not provided on the day agreed with the customer.

Lacson said the ERC will evaluate Veco’s performance after a year and determine whether the company deserves to be given incentives or will be penalized for not complying with the targets.

Lacson encouraged the public to attend public hearings on the scheme to be conducted by ERC so they will understand it better. (EOB)