Group urges power distributors to merge

File Photo
File Photo

CEBU will face economic consequences if it does not fully prepare for future electricity needs.

The Cebu Electricity Rights Advocates (Cera), a Cebu-based network of electricity consumer rights advocates, issued the warning during the launch of the Cebu Electricity Consumer Rights Campaign on Saturday, March 23, 2024, at the Palm Grass Hotel in downtown Cebu City.

Cera, which was established during the first week of March, advocates for consumers to have equal access to stable, reliable and cost-effective electricity. It also ensures the interests and demands of consumers are heard.

“We aim to provide the venues for the consumers’ participation in determining the quality and cost of electricity provided to us. We hold Veco, Cebeco and Meco accountable in ensuring power is delivered to businesses and households in a reliable and cost-effective manner,” said Cera.

To achieve stable power, Nathaniel Chua, Cera convenor, proposed merging current distributors to become one electricity distributor so they can pool their resources to provide a lower electricity rate to consumers.

“Instead of competition, why not collaboration? If we buy power in wholesale, we can negotiate for a lower price,” he said.

The group encouraged people from different sectors to participate, saying everyone is affected when it comes to the issue of reliable and cost-effective sources of power.

Chua said there are no groups that focus on electricity and advocate for stable, reliable and affordable energy.

He said there should be a focus on three problems, which Cera deemed as the Energy Trilemma: energy security, which is the ability to meet current and future energy demand; energy equity, which is the ability to provide universal access to reliable, affordable and abundant energy for domestic and commercial use; and measures, which is the ability to mitigate and avoid environmental degradation and climate change impacts.

He belied claims that Cebu has an adequate supply of electricity, pointing to the unscheduled power interruption on Friday, March 22, and Saturday, in the franchise area of the Mactan Electric Company (Meco).

“As of now, ang supply nato sa electricity sa Cebu nipis ang atong reserve, so kinahanglan ta og stable power,” said Chua.

(As of now, we need a stable source of power in Cebu since our electricity reserves are thin.)

Chua said the inadequate supply of electricity will also lead to economic consequences similar to what happened in Panay Island where unreliable electricity services caused a blackout from Jan. 2 to 5, leading to economic losses estimated at P3.6 billion.

He said they understood the need to balance cost and reliability, considering Cebu is an economic hub.

“We wish for these electric cooperatives and distribution utilities to provide the best available technology which is reliable and not prone to unscheduled power interruptions to be the choice of generating facilities to serve our interests,” the group said.

In May last year, local business leaders expressed concerns over potential shortages in the Visayas grid following “yellow alerts” that were issued due to the high demand for electricity vis-à-vis lower reserves amid the hot dry season.

Cebu is currently under a dry spell as a result of El Niño, which the weather bureau Pagasa warned could persist until the end of May.

High usage of appliances such as air-conditioners, electric fans, refrigerators and other cooling devices has been noted to deal with the high heat index, which can reduce energy supply. (RJM)

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