Damaged submarine cable of NGCP triggers power rate hike this August

PHOTO CAPTION: The damaged 90MW 138KV submarine cable of NGCP in Camlan, Negros Oriental./iNEWS

Electric consumers in Panay and Negros islands have to brace for power rate increases this month of August. The culprit: the damaged National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) 90 MW submarine cable connecting the Cebu-Negros transmission line.

It may be recalled that the said submarine cable was hit and eventually damaged by a backhoe of a Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) contractor while it was undertaking river dredging and project re-channeling along Bio-os River in Amlan, Negros Oriental on June 15.

The incident eventually resulted in the decrease of the NGCP’s transmission capacity to its transmission lines connected to the Cebu, Negros, and Panay grids.

Because of the incident, price differentials and distortions in the market that led to very high “line rental” were triggered.

The Central Negros Electric Cooperative (CENECO) has already announced that it will increase its rate by P1.87 per kWh. CENECO even noted that because of the increase in market prices, its total electricity rate is now at P12.37 per kWh for consumers in the residential category.

For its part, the Northern Negros Electric Cooperative (NONECO) will be up by P2.30 per kWh, which means that it will now be charging P13.8213 per kWh compared to its July rate of P11.5152 per kWh.

Electric cooperatives in Panay Island are not spared either. ILECO II is going to charge this August P12.29 per kWh from P11.48 /kWh last month. ILECO III, meanwhile, will charge P11.14 per kWh from P11.02/kWh last month.

Relatedly, the Aklan Electric Cooperative (AKELCO) announced that it will have a separate increase by .19 cents per kWh, which means that it will now be charging P10.1979 per kWh compared to its P10.0038 rate per kWh in July. In its nearby province, the Capiz Electric Cooperative (CAPELCO) will charge P12.11 per kWh, while the Antique Electric Cooperative (ANTECO) will charge P11.05 per kWh.

Consumers of MORE Power are not spared, either, because the increase in market prices will result in an additional P1.53 per kWh increase in its rate. If not for the damaged submarine cable of the NGCP, the consumers would still be enjoying P6.45 per kWh, which is the significantly lower rate they enjoyed the month of July.

Due to this development, MORE Power will be charging consumers belonging to the residential category this August P7.99 per kWh—still considered “the lowest rate there is” compared to other distribution utilities here and in all other areas.

“We are very sad with this development since we have been exerting all our efforts to lessen the burden of our consumers with regards 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 with,” said Niel Parcon, head of MORE Power’s Corporate Planning Department.

According to Parcon, 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,” the MORE Power officer added.

Affected members of Grupo Konsumidor, One Panay Consumers Association, and Koalisyon Bantay Kuryente consumer groups underscored that it’s unfair for them to take on the burden of the degeneration of the NGCP’s energy transmission, especially since it was caused by the DPWH‘s contractor’s negligence and irresponsibility.

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

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