Cebu News

New power rate begins

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  The Visayan Electric announced yesterday that the average rate for residential customers is now at P15.37/kWh from an average rate of P15.24/kWh in the August-September billing period.

"The new rate translated to a P26 increase for customers with an average monthly electricity consumption of 200kWh,” said the Visayan Electric in a press statement.

The country’s second largest power distributor explained that the high prices of coal in the world market continue to be the major cause of high prices of electricity.

“This is aggravated by an adjustment in the government subsidy for missionary electrification and the taxes for power purchases after the expiration of the contract with the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM),” it said.

It can be recalled that the Energy Regulatory Commission, in a Resolution  dated August 4, 2022, approved the request of the National Power Corporation (NGCP) to recover the shortfall from the Universal Charge – Missionary Electrification (UC-ME) subsidy for 2012 in the amount of P2,606,208,364.83, with an equivalent rate of P0.0239/kWh.

In view of this, the ERC resolution directed all distribution utilities and the to collect from the consumers the UC-ME true-up rate of P0.0239/kWh, on top of the existing UC-ME basic rate of P0.1561/kWh, for a period of 12 months starting September 2022.

In addition to the UC-ME additional charges, the increase in electricity rates is also driven by the taxes incurred for the purchase of power from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) and other contracted suppliers after Visayan Electric's contract with PSALM ended last July.

PSALM is a government-owned and controlled corporation established through the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), has the principal mandate of managing the orderly sale, disposition, and privatization of the NPC generation assets, real estate and other disposable assets, and Independent Power Producer (IPP) contracts to optimally liquidate all NPC financial obligations.

Last July, PSALM ended power contracts with distribution utilities, including Visayan Electric, due to the ongoing privatization.

“This led the power distribution firm to purchase additional power from WESM and other contracted suppliers to augment the power needs previously supplied by PSALM,” the Visayan Electric said.

It added that power that purchases from WESM that are sourced from non-renewable sources are subject to Value Added Tax, compared to power purchased from PSALM which is tax-free since its power assets are renewable sources.

To help its customers cope with the high prices, Visayan Electric is offering payment arrangements for customers in good standing who cannot pay their bills in full.

Customers who are interested in applying for payment arrangements may do so at any of Visayan Electric’s service centers.

Fake Wires

Meanwhile, the Cebu City Council has requested the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-7 to intensify its inspection and monitoring against counterfeit or fake electrical wire products to mitigate fire-related incidents.

Councilor Pastor "Jun" Alcover, Jr. delivered a  privilege speech before the City Council Wednesday to give public awareness that the use of counterfeit or fake electrical wires can cause fire.

Alcover, chairman of the City Council's Committee on Trade and Commerce, cited a report from the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) stating that “electrical ignition” is among the common causes of fire in the city from 2020 to 2022.

Based on the report, there have been 13 incidents so far this year involving electrical ignition caused by overloading; 14 incidents of electrical ignition caused by arcing; eight incidents of electrical ignition caused by loose connection; and 5 five incidents of electrical ignition caused by counterfeit wires.

The councilor also quoted SFO2 Wendell Villanueva, Cebu City Fire Office spokesperson, stating that overloading, octopus connections, and defective wirings are among the causes of fires in the city.

He added that according to the Philippine Electric Wires Manufacturers Association, the use of substandard and fake electrical materials put consumers at high risk of fire.

“Then, I received a very reliable source gikan sa usa ka judge nga duna siyay mga kaso nga gi-handle about ning sunog nga arson. Pero matod pa niya, sa iyahang nakita nga obserbasyon, kasagaran gyud (hinungdan) sa sunog, mao kining paggamit sa mga fake wires or mga counterfeit wires nga maoy kusog kaayong gipamaligya ron sa mga hardwares,” said Alcover.

He said that the selling of these counterfeit wires in the city must be immediately addressed to avoid more fire incidents.

“Perhaps it is debatable to identify the proximate and ultimate causes of electrical ignitions that cause structural fires, pero mas maayo nalang siguro masayod subay sa pag amping kaysa atong isugal ang seguridad batok sa sunog,” said Alcover.

He also said that there is a need for a massive information campaign on the disadvantages of using cheap but counterfeit wires which could easily cause fire.

In a corollary motion, Councilor Nestor Archival, Sr. requested the Institute of Integrated Electrical Engineers to give recommendations to the city government on how to reduce the incidents of fire caused by the aforementioned common causes.

Archival also requested the same from Cebu City Fire Director Reynaldo Enoc.  – Mary Ruth R. Malinao, JMD (FREEMAN)

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