The power supply crisis in Luzon has been crucifying the customers of electric cooperatives (ECs) who had to suffer rate spikes of up to P1.30 per kilowatt hour (kWh) in their electric bills.

That was based on the pronouncement of the Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association Inc. (PHILRECA), which indicated that “the shortage in power supply caused increases in residential effective electricity rates…with the June power rates having the highest average increase of P1.3037 per kWh among the affected electric cooperatives.”

In fact, the aggrupation of the ECs stated that the electricity rates their customers have been paying for since the start of the year had been incessantly rising.

PHILRECA reported that more than half of the electric cooperatives in Luzon – accounting for 26 ECs or 59.1-percent of the total, had logged rate spikes “due to the current power supply shortage.”

Given the recurring predicament of supply shortfalls in the country’s biggest power grid, PHILRECA President and Party-list Representative Presley De Jesus took a swipe at “the government regulatory and policy agencies to stop finger pointing and find a way to solve the problem;” – and that’s manifestly a call on the Department of Energy and the Energy Regulatory Commission.

He stressed “the people are suffering because of someone or some office’s failure to plan and make contingencies on such a perennial problem like this one.”

De Jesus expounded “since time immemorial, we encounter the same circumstances, and experience the same problem, and yet, we are allowing this to happen.”

He thus pointed out “what puzzles me is the fact that we know what the problem is, we know what the solution is, and in fact, we even know when exactly the problem would occur; ” but he similarly emphasized “for reasons I cannot comprehend, nothing is being done to solve this.”

According to Engineer Kenjie Fagyan, regulatory affairs officer of PHILRECA, “the gradual increases in residential effective power rates since January are due to the upward trend of generation costs and forced outages of some power plants supplying the energy requirements of Luzon.”

He specified that some of the plants had been on forced outages since December last year; and had been lagging on their maintenance or repair works until now.

“That is why as early as January, majority of our EC consumers in Luzon experienced increases in power rates in their electricity bills,” he noted.

As a recourse, Fagyan said the affected ECs had to source electricity from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), “and in most cases, electricity from the spot market is more expensive than the approved rates in the distribution utility’s power supply agreement with the generation companies.”

PHILRECA Executive Director and General Manager Janeene Depay-Colingan, nevertheless, qualified that these upticks in the electric bills “were beyond the control of the ECs.”

She explained that the electric cooperatives “are just collection agents of GenCos (generation companies),” adding that “the increases that the consumers see in their bills are actually increases in generation charges.”

Source: Manila Bulletin (