‘ALL FOR THE BEST’: Consumers okay MORE Power’s 47-centavo hike to recover investments

MORE Power personnel check the instrument panel of the Mandurriao Substation as part of its hotspot correction activities in Iloilo City.

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

Consumers of Iloilo City welcomed the 47-centavo increase in the distribution charges of MORE Electric and Power Corp. as it is geared toward further improving its services in Iloilo City.

This, as the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) granted provisional approval to the application of the Enrique Razon-led MORE Power to adjust electricity rates in Iloilo City.

In an order promulgated on June 8, 2022, the ERC approved a recovery rate of P0.4725 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), or lower by P0.0773 than the P0.5498 per kWh that MORE Power sought.

“After due deliberation and thorough evaluation of the documents submitted and the information gathered by the Commission pursuant to its regulatory powers, the Commission resolves to GRANT the Applicant’s prayer for provisional authority,” the ERC said.

The 47-centavo rate will be added to the P1.30 average distribution charge on all rate classes of MORE Power.

Niel Parcon, Corporate Planning and Regulatory Affairs head of MORE Power, said the rate increase is meant to recover the emergency capital expenditure (capex) they invested since taking over Iloilo City’s power distribution services more than two years ago.

MORE Power has so far spent close to P1 billion of the approved P1.3 billion in emergency capex.

Parcon said the capex major projects included the rehabilitation of 5 existing substations and replacement of the power transformer in City Proper substation, installation of 10MVA mobile substation and 30/36 Gas-Insulated substation, all in Megaworld, replacement of around 25,000 old meters, 600 units of distribution transformers and 2,000 distribution line poles, among others.

“The provisional rate does not include our investments in the planned substation for Arevalo and the new mobile substation we recently purchased and to be installed in Mandurriao. But we can already feel the effects of the investment with fewer and shorter unscheduled power interruptions, the lowering of systems loss from 28 percent to 7.8 percent apart from the new poles, lines, and transformers that we installed,” he added.

In its application, MORE said that its approved emergency capex projects for 2020 amounted to about P1.33 billion.

Even if MORE Power increases its distribution charge by 47 centavos in the June 18 onwards billing cycle, its overall rates will still be lower compared to other distribution utilities and electric cooperatives.

“Overall, our rates will still be below P8 compared to other areas where the rates are between P10 and P14 per kWh. There will be increases over P8 in some rate classes but that would be a matter of several centavos,” Parcon said.

According to Lina Celeste of Jaro, the small increase is alright as MORE Power has been improving the city’s electricity services.

“Ok lang na ang gamay nga increase. Manami man ya ang serbisyo sang MORE kag nakatilaw man kita sang tama ka barato nga kuryente pila na ka bulan”.

Also, businessman Jose Belmonte of Molo said MORE Power should be allowed to recover its investments and further improve the city’s distribution services.

“Dapat lang gid man na agud makabawi sila sa ila investments kag maging sustainable ang ila manami nga pagserbisyo sa aton”, he said.

Rommel Lago in a Facebook post commented, “Ok lang kay at least improve serbisyo, pag tawag sang troubleshoot may gasabat dayon kag may gakadto, sang una sa PECO ka ayawan kapa tawag pabalik balik igo ka kadtuan pag ka bwas pa”.

Recently, MORE Power Iloilo President and Chief Operating Officer Roel Castro announced that the company will invest an additional 1.1 Billion pesos for the modernization phase for the the next 3 years after its company officials approved its latest budget.

Initial plans include an additional three substations to prepare for the increasing power demand in the city. These substations will be based in Megaworld and Arevalo. A mobile substation will also be put up to back-up any existing substations which needs to be repaired.

All substations and feeders will also be tied-up for looping with Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems, for a digital monitoring of the entire facility.

Through this, the power distribution to all consumers will be more reliable, stable, efficient and will encourage additional investors for the progress of Iloilo City.