MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/12 Sept) — The Bukidnon Sub-Transmission Company (BSTC) will proceed with the scheduled disconnection of Bukidnon Second Electric Cooperative (Buseco) from its system on Sept. 15 if the latter fails to pay its connection charge of over P7 million, BSTC chief operating officer Artis Nikki Tortola told dxDB-Malaybalay on Monday .
The amount covers connection charges from February to August this year, Tortola said.
BSTC last week sent notice of the disconnection to local government units of areas that would be affected.
Buseco’s franchise area covers Malaybalay City, the towns of Lantapan, Cabanglasan, Impasugong, Sumilao, Manolo Fortich, Malitbog, Libona, Baungon and Talakag, and Barangay Lilingayon of Valencia City.
Buseco said in an advisory on Thursday last week that BSTC has no legal basis to collect connection charges as there is no contract between them.
The contract between Buseco and BSTC already expired on Jan. 25, 2016, the advisory said.
But Tortola said that despite the absence of a contract BSTC continued to provide service to Buseco.
He said it was Buseco that refused to sign the renewal of contract with BSTC.
He said if Buseco would cite the absence of a contract as basis for nonpayment, then there is more reason for it to be disconnected.
Buseco argued it could not pay the amount being collected by BSTC without approval from the Energy Regulatory Commission.
It added that BSTC has applied for a rate increase that will reportedly triple the rates currently paid by consumers.
Tortola said Buseco can avail of the “pay under protest” option pending ERC action to avoid being disconnected from the subtransmission company.
He admitted that BSTC has a pending rate increase application with ERC but emphasized that the outstanding P7 million connection charge is based on current rates.
On Friday, Tortola said BSTC doesn’t want to inconvenience Buseco’s consumers.
“All we want is for them (Buseco) to pay what’s due to us.”
“If they pay us after the disconnection, we will try our best to restore power as soon as possible,” he said.
BSTC is operating the 69-kilovolt Kibawe-Maramag-Aglayan sub-transmission system in Bukidnon and bill Buseco and the First Bukidnon Electric Cooperative (Fibeco) for the connection charge and residual sub-transmission charge and applicable value added tax, he explained.
BSTC is only servicing Bukidnon’s two electric cooperatives, he added.
Fibeco services Valencia City and the towns of San Fernando, Maramag, Quezon, Kitaotao, Don Carlos, Dangcagan, Kibawe, Damulog, Kadingilan, Kalilangan and Pangantucan.
In 2010, the ERC approved the sale of the 69-KV subtransmission line in Bukidnon from the Transmission Corporation to BSTC, a consortium formed by Buseco and Fibeco, in line with the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001.
Buseco and Fibeco established a 50-50 capital sharing in the cost of investment, profit sharing and cost of operations of BSTC.
The consortium is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission as a subtransmission corporation, which means it is neither a distribution utility nor an electric cooperative. (H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)