ERC urged to quickly act on Ceneco-EDC supply deal

(Glazyl Y. Masculino Photo)

By Glazyl Y. Masculino and Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD CITY – Mayor Alfredo “Albee” Benitez has called on the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to act on the joint petition of the Central Negros Electric Cooperative (Ceneco) and the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) in relation to power supply agreement.

Benitez reached out to the ERC to bring to their attention the strong clamor of the consumers here regarding the high power rates of Ceneco in the recent months.

Benitez, in a letter addressed to Monalisa Dimalanta, ERC chairperson and chief  executive officer, said that the ERC has not acted on the joint petition filed by Ceneco and EDC on March 15, 2024, under ERC Case No. 2024-038 RC, entitled “In the Matter of the Application for the Approval of the Power Supply Agreement between Ceneco and EDC, with Motion for Confidential Treatment of Information and Prayer for Provisional Authority or Interim Relief.”

“Given that more than 60 days have passed since the filing of this petition clearly shows that ERC has not acted on it timely resulting in an intolerable increase in our power rates. Considering the extreme urgency of the situation, we beg the indulgence of the ERC to favorably act on the said joint petition expeditiously,” the mayor said.

Benitez said that he had learned about this after he had a thorough dialogue with Ceneco officials on the issue of the increasing power rates in the city.

Benitez also stressed in the letter that to his understanding, the ERC has temporarily suspended the operation of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) under the declaration of red alert of the systems operator National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), and that they can expect for power prices to lower down as the rate freeze are implemented.

However, he noted that the same has not been implemented in the recent months since the suspension.

“This move of ERC to suspend WESM is very timely and imperative now to provide relief to our already suffering consumers in Bacolod City due to exorbitant electricity bills as of the moment,” Benitez said.

Benitez has also earlier asked the Department of Energy (DOE) to impose a price cap to temporarily halt the increasing power rates.

Two weeks ago, Cenco announced that due to a significant increase in electricity generation costs and market prices, the residential rate for May 2024 will be P15.1632 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), with an upward adjustment of P3.2066/kWh compared to the previous month’s rate of P11.9566/kWh.

The main contributor to the rate hike for May is a 31.96 percent increase in the Generation Charge, resulting from a rise in the WESM price from P8.0879/kWh to P12.6706/kWh, according to Ceneco.

Negros Occidental Acting Governor Jeffrey Ferrer said he also supports Ceneco’s call for quick action on its PSA with EDC.

In a letter to ERC Chairperson and CEO Monalisa Dimalanta, Ferrer emphasized that issuing the provisional authority is crucial given the current energy supply and economic conditions.

The letter, dated May 27, 2024, was shared with reporters on Wednesday.

“Our foremost priority is to ensure the continuous and reliable delivery of electricity to residents and businesses,” Ferrer said.

He highlighted that implementing the PSA between EDC and Ceneco is essential to safeguarding this priority.

The PSA promises to provide electricity at competitive rates, significantly reducing Ceneco’s exposure to the volatile and generally higher prices of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM).

“The provincial government of Negros Occidental underscores the urgency of this matter. We trust that the commission recognizes the significant impact of this decision and will act favorably on Ceneco’s motion for the issuance of the provisional authority,” Ferrer said.

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