Senator Roxas says Visayas power rate hike unjust

Saturday, March 21, 2009 | posted in , , , , , , , , | 0 comments

Liberal President Senator Mar Roxas has sought an inquiry into the looming generation cost hike by the National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR) and the Power Sector Asset and Liabilities Management (PSALM) in the Visayas grid.

He filed Senate Resolution No. 946 which seeks an inquiry by the Senate Committee on Energy into the imminent power rate hike of P1.146 per kilowatt-hour in Visayas.
"Hindi tama ito. Dagdag na pasanin itong pagtataas ng singil sa kuryente lalo sa mga kababayan nating apektado ng krisis-pinansiyal (This is not right. With this rate hike, we're increasing the burden of our people who are already reeling from the effects of the financial crisis)," he said.

"Gusto nating malaman kung bakit magtataas ng singil sa kuryente lalo na sa Kabisayaan kung saan pinakamalaki ito. Makatarungan ba ang dagdag-singil na ito? May iba pa bang solusyon na hindi pabigat sa mga kababayan natin? (We want to know why power rates were hiked especially in the Visayas. Is it just? Are there other options that will not put much burden on our people?)," he said.
The Senate inquiry, Roxas said, would determine if there is a need to amend existing energy laws to better protect power consumers. He added that it is the duty of the State to "protect the public interest as it is affected by the rates and services of electric utilities and other providers of electric power."

The Ilonggo senator also wants the Senate to look into the claims of the Federation of Electric Cooperatives in Eastern Visayas that NAPOCOR and PSALM did not notify and inform the Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association, various electric cooperatives and local government units in the region of their joint application before the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), as mandated by the Electric Power Industry Reforms Act (EPIRA).

The ERC approved the joint Napocor-PSALM application last month, allowing a hike of P 0.4682 per kilowatt hour for Luzon, P 1.1460 /kwh for Visayas and P 0.7174 /kwh for Mindanao in their basic generation charges. The ERC claimed the increase would alleviate Napocor's current financial difficulties due to current power generation costs.

The ERC decision was met with stiff opposition by local officials in Western and Eastern Visayas, led by Negros Occidental Governor Isidro Zayco and Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia who have asked the Bacolod Sangguniang Panglungsod to file an intervention and opposition in ERC Case No. 2009-004 to the application for higher power rates of Napocor and PSALM.

He added his office has received reports from Western Visayas officials that additional power rate hikes or massive power shortages are likely to happen once two of the power generators in Iloilo province are turned over on March 25 to a private Singaporean-owned firm named SPC Island Power Corporation.



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