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PCPC role in high CENECO rates exposed

Konsyumer Negros, a consumer advocacy group, yesterday exposed the role played by Palm Concepcion Power Corporation in the abnormally high power rates burdening consumers in Central Negros Electric Cooperative, Inc.’s (CENECO) franchise area.

In a statement, Griderick Alila, Konsyumer Convenor, laid bare two power supply agreements between CENECO and Palm Concepcion in a presentation submitted to the Committee on Energy on the matter of the electric cooperative’s high rates.

The hearing was conducted yesterday at the House of Representatives in Quezon City, on the basis of House Resolution No. 475 filed by Bacolod City Rep. Greg Gasataya.

“CENECO sources 52.25 percent of its contracted energy capacity from Palm Corporation in the form of two PSAs – 35 megawatts (MW) from a PSA that was voided by the Supreme Court in 2019, and 20MW from an emergency PSA (EPSA). Both of these PSAs have rates that exceed electricity sold by the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), to the detriment of Negrosanons in their franchise area,” Alila said.

Konsyumer showed that the two PSAs exceeded power rates from WESM by as much as P4.77 per kilowatthour (kwh) in November, causing Committee Chairman and Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Velasco to ask CENECO for copies of the said PSAs. Electricity from Green Core Geothermal, Inc., in contrast, held steady at P5.88/kwh from June to November of this year.

“CENECO contracted these PSAs. In the case of the EPSA, CENECO waited a year before contracting it, time which it could have used to instead procure a regular PSA. Why our distribution utility prefers more expensive electricity, we don’t know. But we do know that higher electricity rates are a disservice to member-consumer-owners (MCOs) of CENECO,” Alila further said.

Konsyumer made four recommendations to help bring down the price of electricity in Negros.

“First, we must mandate straight energy pricing for all PSAs to protect consumers from the volatility of the fossil fuel market. Second, we must increase the contracted capacity of renewable energy. Third, MCOs must have greater access to procurement documents of CENECO. Finally, the role of consumers in the bidding process must be formalized. But before any reform can take root, CENECO must be held accountable by its MCOs,” Alila stressed.*

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