Power consumers favored by ERC ruling, will no longer bear cost of damaged NGCP cable

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

ILOILO CITY–Hands down, this is a win for Iloilo City MORE power subscribers.

In a ruling dated September 20, 2021, Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) chairperson Agnes Vicente S. Torres-Devanadera backed power consumers in Negros and Panay in their complaint against the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC) for instituting significant power rate hikes beginning in June due to the tripping of the Cebu-Negros 138 kV Line 1 on June 15.

“(This) unreasonable burden to consumers and businesses…was not caused by (them)…and the responsible parties should be made to account for (them),” said Torres-Devanadera in a letter addressed to Leonido Pulido III, president of PEMC.

To recall, dredging works by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in Negros Oriental had resulted in serious damage to a line of the Cebu-Negros Submarine Cable, leading to decreased transfer capability and congestion. This also meant expensive diesel plants have to be tapped in the meantime to deliver the required load, which, along with high line rental rates, PESMC cited as the reason for the price increases in Negros and Panay.

But the ERC, according to Torres-Devanadera, “cannot agree less”, adding, “The Commission is of the view that the congestion charges, and other charges, that are attributable to the incident, should not be charged to the consumers.”

Instead, the ERC directs PEMC, to 1) Stop the collection from customers of all applicable charges until the damaged cable is restored; 2) Refund the charges already billed, and 3) Defer the payment of future charges until the transmission line is operational again or until more reasonable pricing or payment solution is ordered by the Commission.

The ERC also ordered PEMC to submit on Thursday, September 23, a detailed report on the charges already collected as well as charges already billed but not yet collected.

Meanwhile, in a statement posted on their official Facebook page, MORE Power hailed the “collective effort to protect the rights of the consumers” and gave credit to its “corroborators” in the complaint they filed with the ERC, including Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas, Iloilo City Representative Jamjam Baronda, the Department of Energy, Congressman Mike Gorriceta, and various consumer and business groups.

“Together we aired that it is too unfair for the consumers to take on the burden that is not of their own making. Thank you for rallying with us,” read the statement. (Terri M. Amador/iNEWS)

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