CDO lawmakers want House to probe power rates hike

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CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/16 July) – Two congressmen here have asked the House Committee on Energy to investigate, in aid of legislation, the reasons behind the increase in electricity rates by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines despite the low power supply being experienced the past few months.

Second District Rep. Rufus Rodriquez and his brother, Abante Mindanao Representative Maximo Rodriguez Jr. Last week filed House Resolution No. 40 asking Congress to look into the provisional authority given by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to the NGCP to collect ancillary charges from electric distribution utilities.

The resolution said the increase reached 100 percent in April this year.

The provisional authority enables the NGCP to pass on to the electric utilities the payment for ancillary services provided by the Aboitiz-owned Therma Marine Inc. (TMI), in particular additional power to the Mindanao grid from their power barges in Nasipit, Agusan del Norte and Maco, Compostela Valley.

The NGCP and TMI have filed before the ERC the petition for approval of their Ancillary Service Procurement Agreement (Aspa).

A consumer group in Cagayan de Oro City claimed that in April and May this year, the NGCP had collected about P650-million in ancillary fees in Mindanao alone.

Ancillary services is defined under the Electricity and Power industry Reform Act or Epira as “anything that is necessary to support transmission of capacity and energy from resources to loads in order to maintain power quality, reliability and security of the transmission system in accordance with good industry practice and the Philippine Grid Code.”

Power experts are saying however that the nature of the service TMI provided to the NGCP is not ancillary services as defined under the law but partakes of the nature of base load generation and no longer in the rightful jurisdiction of the NGCP which now holds the franchise to manage the country’s power transmission system.

Under the Epira, the power industry has been unbundled into three sectors, namely generation, transmission and distribution.

The Cagayan Electric Power and Light Company (Cepalco) had intervened in the case expressing its opposition to the NGCP’s and TMI’s Aspa application.

The consumer group Konsumanteng Kagay-anon Inc. is also filing an opposition to the Aspa before the ERC.

House Resolution no. 40 particularly mentioned NGCP, TMI, Cepalco and Konsumanteng Kagay-anon to be given notice about the congressional investigation. (BenCyrus G. Ellorin/MindaNews)

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