Damaged NGCP cable to trigger power rate hikes in August 2021

By Francis Allan L. Angelo

Electricity consumers in Panay and Negros Islands must brace for a major increase in the price of electricity when the bills for August 2021 start coming in.

The sudden spike in power rates is due to the damaged 90-megawatt (MW) submarine cable of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) that connects the Cebu-Negros transmission line.

The submarine cable was damaged by a backhoe of a Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) contractor that was undertaking river dredging and project re-channeling along Bio-os River in Amlan, Negros Oriental on June 15, 2021.

The damaged cable resulted in decreased transmission capacity of NGCP lines connected to Cebu, Negros, and Panay grid. This triggered price differentials and distortions in the market that led to a very high “line rental.”

Central Negros Electric Cooperative (CENECO) has announced that it will increase its rate by P1.87 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), pushing its residential rate to P12.37 per kWh.

Northern Negros Electric Cooperative (NONECO) said its rate will go up by P2.30 to P13.8213 per kWh, compared to its July rate of P11.5152 per kWh

Electric cooperatives in Panay Island are not spared with Iloilo Electric Cooperative (ILECO) II charging its consumers P12.29 per kWh in August, against P11.48 /kWh in July.

ILECO III, meanwhile, will charge P11.14 per kWh, up from P11.02/kWh in July.

Aklan Electric Cooperative (AKELCO) announced that it will impose a P0.19 centavo increase, which means that it will be charging P10.1979 per kWh in its August bill, compared to P10.0038 rate per kWh in July.

Capiz Electric Cooperative (CAPELCO) will charge consumers P12.11 per kWh, while the Antique Electric Cooperative (ANTECO) will charge P11.05.

Consumers of MORE Power in Iloilo City are not spared as it will jack up its rates by P1.53 per kWh. If not for the damaged submarine cable of the NGCP, the consumers would still be enjoying the P6.45 per kWh rate, which significantly lowered their bill in the month of July.

With this development, MORE Power will charge P7.99 per kWh on consumers under the residential category in August 2021. Despite the increase, it is still considered “the lowest rate there is” compared to other distribution utilities.

“We are very sad with this development since we have been exerting all our efforts to lessen the burden of our consumers in regard to their electricity bills especially now that we are in a crisis situation due to the pandemic. Although we hate to increase our rate, too, along with the others, there is what we call ‘pass through charges’ being imposed by the NGCP and the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) through the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines (IEMOP) that we have to comply,” according to Niel Parcon, head of MORE Power’s Corporate Planning Department.

Parcon said MORE Power wrote the Energy Regulatory Commission to intervene and look into the matter.

“The result of the recent WESM transactions of MORE Power showing a very huge amount in line rental will redound to consumers of Iloilo City paying high electricity rates which is very untimely in this time of the pandemic,” he added.

Grupo Konsumidor, One Panay Consumers Association and Koalisyon Bantay Kuryente consumer groups underscored that it’s unfair for them to take on the burden, which was caused by the DPWH‘s contractor’s negligence and irresponsible work resulting in the degeneration of the NGCP’s energy transmission.

According to NGCP, works on the damaged submarine cable may even extend up to December this year.