Buseco to Bukidnon provincial board: ERC decides on power rates

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/23 February) – It’s the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), not the Sangguniang Panlalawigan that sets electricity rates, Bukidnon Second Electric Cooperative general manager Edgardo Masongsong today said, adding this authority [of the ERC] is provided for in the Electric Power Industry Reform Act.

This was Masongsong’s reaction to the opposition expressed by the Bukidnon provincial board to the financing agreement signed between Buseco and the Bank of the Philippine Islands earlier this month.

The agreement entitles Buseco to a P135.9-million loan from the World Bank.

But in a resolution passed last week, the provincial board said the loan would mean higher power rates.

“It is no secret that that the general welfare of the inhabitants of Bukidnon would be affected every time a loan is incurred by the electric cooperatives because the payments of said loan would almost always be passed on to their consumers,” the resolution sponsored by board member Nemesio Beltran Jr. said.

Beltran added they have not passed a resolution endorsing any application for rate increase from Buseco in relation to the agreement.

He said the board has a standing resolution disallowing the First Bukidnon Electric Cooperative (Fibeco) and Buseco from imposing power rate increases without their approval.

The board asked the National Electrification Administration (NEA) to give it “due courtesy” by not approving any loan application of either Fibeco or Buseco without its prior endorsement.

Masongsong insisted however that “authority to avail of loan by highly regulated power players such as Buseco is sought through the ERC.”

According to the World Bank in a statement posted on its website, Buseco will use the amount for the installation of a 10-MVA substation in Barangay Kisolon in Sumilao town, construction of a 25-kilometer 69-KV transmission line from Lunocan to Kisolon, and replacement and calibration of installed meters.

Masongsong was quoted in the statement as saying that with improved capacity, “Buseco will be able to bring better electricity services to 86,000 rural homes in 170 barangays in Bukidnon as well as meet the increasing power demand by small and medium agribusiness enterprises, thus contributing to the expansion of economic opportunities and job creation in the countryside.”

Buseco covers the northern part of Bukidnon province, particularly the City of Malaybalay and the municipalities of Baungon, Malitbog, Libona, Manolo Fortich, Sumilao, Impasug-ong, Lantapan, Cabanglasan and Talakag. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)