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Cebu chamber questions ‘high’ power rates

The ERC ordered the Visayan Electric Company to submit an explanation over its alleged high power rates



The Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) reiterated its inquiry on Visayan Electric’s alleged high power rates imposition on consumers as raised by Regional Development Council (RDC) 7 Economic Development Committee (EDC) chairperson Consul Virgilio Espeleta during the RDC’s 4th quarter meeting on 3 December.

“This will provide us a glimpse of where our country’s energy regulatory agency stands in its mandate to serve the best interests of the power consumers and at the very least from the point of view of transparency in the power industry,” the CCCI said in its letter addressed to RDC-7 chairperson Kenneth Cobonpue, requesting for a follow up on ERC’s findings on the factors affecting the cost of electricity in Cebu.

CCCI cited a 27 January 2021 news article published in a certain broadsheet which showed ERC commissioner-in-charge Floresinda Baldo-Digal’s statement that the commission is set to complete its evaluation by February 2021.

“If indeed the ERC has completed its evaluation since then, the CCCI has not received a copy of this,” CCCI said.

The chamber also wanted the ERC to respond, produce facts and analysis, and address the very issue of Cebu’s high power cost relative to the rest of the country and the region.

“It has been almost a year since CCCI raised these and we respectfully need answers to all queries we have raised to ERC especially on why Cebu has the highest cost of power in the Philippines in our steadfast belief that good governance requires the mandated government agencies to be responsible and accountable to its citizenry — the business community included,” the CCCI said.

The ERC, meantime, ordered the Visayan Electric Company to submit an explanation over its alleged high power rates.

ERC chairperson Agnes Devanadera, on her letter dated 4 January 2021, directed Visayan Electric to submit an explanation regarding the high electricity rates charged by it and its perceived violation of Section 45(b) of the EPIRA Law.

Section 23 of the EPIRA Law mandates that distribution utilities — the Visayan Electric included — have the obligation to supply electricity in the least cost manner to its captive market, subject to the collection of retail duly approved by the ERC.