SouthCot power firm slashes rates

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/22 October) – Power consumers here and in nearby South Cotabato and Sarangani provinces are in for another relief in their power bills after local power utility South Cotabato Electric Cooperative II (Socoteco II) further reduced its basic rates by at least 39 centavos starting this month.

Vickie Fernandez, Socoteco II public relations officer, said Friday they will reduce the area’s basic power rate to an average of P5.37 per kilowatt-hour for the month of October from last month’s P5.76 due to another reduction in the power generation and transmission charges received by the firm.

She said the 39-centavo rate reduction will be incorporated in the electric bills for October of consumers within Socoteco II’s service areas.

Socoteco II currently serves more than 113,000 industrial and residential connections in this city, the entire Sarangani province and the municipalities of Tupi and Polomolok in South Cotabato.

In Polomolok and Tupi, Fernandez said the new basic rates were set at P5.3872 and P5.3882 per kwh, respectively.

In Sarangani, she said the new rates were: P5.3794 in Alabel, P5.3850 in Maitum, P5.367 in Malapatan, P5.3786 in Malungon, P5.3994 in Glan, P5.3666 in Maasim and P5.3981 in Kiamba town.

Fernandez explained that the basic rates they impose in the nine municipalities and lone city covered by their service area were varied due to the differences in the taxes levied by the local government units on the firm based on their tax ordinances.

Since July, Socoteco II already reduced its basic power rates by at least P1.77 due to the continuing reduction in transmission and generation charges they received from the National Power Corporation (NPC) and the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).

Crisanto Sotelo, Socoteco II’s technical services manager, earlier said the NPC and NGCP slashed their imposed charges as a result of the normalization of Mindanao’s power generation capacity.

Power rates in the area increased dramatically during the first half of the year due to the ancillary charges slapped by the NGCP on local power distribution utilities.

According to the NGCP, the ancillary services refer to power supplier-driven services that are necessary to support the transmission of electricity from power resources to load customers and to maintain the reliability of power services.

NGCP officials said the drastic increase in its ancillary charges was caused by the increased utilization of oil-fired power plants in the wake of the reduced generation capacity of the hydropower plants during the drought early this year.

The limited operations of the NPC’s hydropower plants, which started in late January, was mainly blamed on the reduction of the water levels of Lake Lanao and the Agus and Pulangi river systems due to the onslaught of the long dry spell caused by the El Nino Phenomenon.

The power supply shortfall had forced the NGCP to impose significant cuts on the power loads of local electric cooperatives, triggering daily rotational brownouts that lasted as long as 12 hours. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)

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