Negros coop has WV’s highest electricity rate

Negros Occidental Electric Cooperative (NONECO) | Facebook photo

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

Consumers served by the Negros Occidental Electric Cooperative (NONECO) are experiencing a surge in electricity rates, the highest among electric cooperatives in Western Visayas.

In May, the residential electricity rate of NONECO was P17.2669 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), reflecting an increase of P2.6995 kWh compared to April’s P14.5674 kWh.

NONECO’s service area includes the cities and municipalities of Magalona, Manapla, Toboso, Calatrava, Victorias, Cadiz, Sagay, Escalante, and San Carlos in Negros Occidental.

The cooperative attributed the surge to the high electricity price from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), which was P12.6218 in May compared to the previous month’s P8.1846.

NONECO clarified that its Distribution, Supply, and Metering (DSM) charges, currently at P1.6109 kWh, have not increased since February 2010. These charges cover the maintenance, construction, and administrative costs of NONECO’s daily operations.

The National Electrification Administration (NEA) explained that the rise in electricity prices is primarily due to an increase in the generation component of the rates.

“The generation component represents a pass-through cost from the power suppliers to the electric cooperatives. This means the costs incurred by the power suppliers are directly transferred to the cooperatives and then to the consumers, without any markup from the cooperatives,” said NEA administrator Antonio Mariano Almeda.

He emphasized that the increase in generation costs is unavoidable for the cooperatives and directly impacts the rates charged to Member-Consumer-Owners.

“The increase in the generation component is beyond the control of the cooperatives. Generally, the cooperatives do not have the ability to influence or reduce these generation costs, as they are set by the power suppliers based on their operating conditions and other factors,” he added.

**Reliance on Non-Renewable Energy**

According to NONECO’s website, the cooperative’s generation mix is highly dependent on non-renewable energy sources. As of April this year, NONECO’s overall generation mix consists of 90.91 percent non-renewable energy and 9.09 percent renewable energy.

The non-renewable energy sources include the Palm Concepcion Power Corporation, serving as the intermediate and baseload supplier, and the Panay Energy Development Corporation. The renewable energy source is Green Core Geothermal, Inc.

Since 2016, a 132.5-megawatt solar farm has been in commercial operation in Cadiz City, one of NONECO’s franchise areas. The ground-mounted solar project, spread over 176 hectares, is considered the largest in Southeast Asia and the seventh largest in the world.

A study published by the Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development in 2020 suggested that since several towns in Negros Island host solar farms, local governments could establish their municipal utilities to purchase power directly from these solar farms and distribute it within their jurisdictions. This approach could lower electricity costs by approximately 8 percent by eliminating transmission costs, according to the study.

“Communities, however, should be provided the option to obtain electricity from their Negros electric cooperative whenever there is low energy supply from the solar (photovoltaic) plants,” the study added.

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