Cebu News

Additional amount for renewable energy: Higher power rates next week

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Power consumers in Cebu and the rest of the country will be paying higher power rates at an increase of P0.0834 per kilowatt hour starting this month.

This was after the Energy Regulatory Commission provisionally approved the Feed-In Tariff Allowance (FIT-ALL) amounting to P0.1240 per kilowatt hour.

The FIT-All is a uniform charge (in Php/kWh) billed to all on-grid electricity consumers supplied with electricity through the distribution or transmission network. Just like the universal charge, the environmental charge, and the NPC stranded cost, the FIT-All would be a separate line item in every consumer's electricity bill.

Visayan Electric Company Spokesperson Jill Verallo said the existing rate for FIT-ALL is at P0.0406 per kwh; hence, an increase of P0.0834 per kwh.  She said the increase will take effect starting in the April 15, 2016 billing period.

ERC had approved the P0.0406 /kwh FIT-ALL effective January 2015 all on-grid electricity consumers.

Verallo, though, said VECO is not the one that initiated the increase, as the power distribution company would just be acting as collector of the said amount.

"We want to make it clear to our consumers that the increase will not go to VECO but to Transco. Igo ra gyud mi mo kolekta ani," she said referring to the company that transmit power from the plans and other sources to the distributors like VECO.

 VECO said that for an average 200 kwh monthly consumption, the increase in FIT-ALL would mean an additional P16.68 per month.

 According to the ERC, the FIT-All would ensure that renewable energy developers participating under the FIT System will be paid in full for their actual electricity generation based on the fixed tariff approved for them.

In a separate interview, AGHAM Partylist number one nominee Angelo Palmones, however, said the new increase will be another burden most especially to poor consumers because of the already high power cost.

 "This is a great injustice especially among the poor. We will file (for a) temporary restraining order in court to further stop its implementation," he said.

While he acknowledged the intent for the imposition of FIT-ALL, Palmones asked why all consumers would bear the cost if the fund is for developers to put up renewable energy generation facilities.  

"Why will consumers shoulder the incentives for RE developers? Let the government subsidize its incentives. We have PAGCOR funds or the  Malampaya funds to answer that  subsidies instead of passing it to the power consumers," he said.

Palmones lamented that Mindanao has been continuously suffering from brownouts; yet the consumers there would also share the burden of subsidizing RE developers.

"Nagdudusa na ang consumers sa kakulangan sa power service, taasan pa ang singil sa kuryente.  Nasaan naman ang hustisya sa gagawin nilang iyan?" Palmones said in a separate statement.

He said he fully supports harnessing renewable energy sources for power generation because of its benefits to the health of the people and the environment. 

He, however, said there are existing renewable energy facilities with greater outputs that could possibly he enhanced for a better power generation capacity.

He said that a Department of Energy 2014 Philippine Power Statistics report on power generation by source showed that geothermal power sources generate 10,308 GWh while other renewable sources (wind, solar, biomass) produce 364 GWh. As to installed megawatts, (inMW) geothermal power sources have 1,918 while new Res could only produce 437.

He further said that the increase could also have adverse effects to both households and business establishments alike.

He said that at this difficult time, the government must find other alternatives or means to relieve the consumers the burden of higher electrical bills instead of imposing an added expense. —(FREEMAN)

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