Minimal hike seen in cost of electricity

A SLIGHT increase in electricity bills is expected this month, an official of the Cagayan Electric Power and Light Company, Inc. (Cepalco) said on Thursday, February 1.

Ralph Paguio, Cepalco senior vice president, said consumers should expect a three centavo hike for every kilowatt hour (KWh) this February for the first year of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (Train) law implementation.

Paguio said this translates to around P6 for a typical household consuming an average of 200 kilowatt hours per month.

A typical household with four members last year paid about P1,500.00 for consuming 200 KWh per month.

Paguio said those consuming some 300KWh per month will have to shell out an additional P9 and those using some 400 KWh would have to pay P12 more per month.

He, however, clarified that the actual amount of the increase will also be affected by coal and petroleum prices. . If the price of fuel decreases, the electricity bills will also automatically decrease.

Cepalco spokesperson Marilyn Chavez explained that the increase cased by added fuel costs or foreign exchange fluctuations do not have to go through the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) as this only constitutes passing on the costs to the consumers or a "pass-on" rate. She said Cepalco and other electric companies in this case act only as "collectors."

"We will then remit it to our suppliers, and our suppliers will also give it to the government, we act as collectors," Chavez said.

Meanwhile, with the looming increase of power rates, an executive of the Cagayan de Oro Water District (COWD) said this might just be the signal to also increase water bills.

Engineer Bienvienido Batar Jr., COWD assistant general manager said COWD's everyday operations include electricity, particularly its production wells, pumping stations, among other facilities.

He said if the increase is too high, the COWD could start public consultations mid-year on the possible increase of pass on water rates to customers too.

It can be recalled that the water facility has about P19 million payables this month to its new bulk water supplier, the Cagayan de Oro Bulkwater Inc. (Cobi) with the new P16 per cubic meter water rate.

Batar said the monthly water bill will rise up to 53 percent.

Batar however clarified that this increase alone will not affect the monthly water bill to its consumers.

"We can absorb it and it's already included in our budget. But if power rates will go up, this might just be reason maybe we can increase the rate that will be passed on to our consumers," he added.

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