S. Cotabato, Sarangani rate hike not related to MidEast crisis – power coop

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/2 March) – Power rates here and in nearby provinces of Sarangani and South Cotabato have increased by at least 13 centavos but officials of the area’s power distribution utility noted that the rate hike was not caused by the continuing increase in fuel prices as supposedly triggered by the political crisis in the Middle East.

Joy Celeste Alora, information officer of the South Cotabato Electric Cooperative II (Socoteco II), said Wednesday the latest increase in the area’s basic power rates was mainly due to the adjustment on the generation charges passed on to them by the National Power Corporation (NPC).

She said another factor was the 13-percent increase posted by the firm’s systems losses during the last two months.

“It has nothing to do with the oil price increases and the Middle East crisis. They have not affected our operations so far,” Alora said.

Since last month, local fuel prices have continued to increase, which oil companies attributed to the continuing rise of fuel price in the world market as a result of the political crisis in Libya, Egypt, Bahrain and other countries in the Middle East.

Earlier this week, oil firms raised anew the prices of crude oil, gasoline and other oil products by at least P2 per liter.

Alora said they have set the area’s new basic rates at P5.62 per kilowatt-hour (kwh) and is reflected in the electric bills of power consumers for the month of February.

In January, Socoteco II’s basic rate was at P5.38 per kwh.

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.

“The trend for the last few years showed that there’s an erratic movement in our basic rates during the first half of the year,” Alora said.

In December, Socoteco’s basic rate for residential consumers was at P5.32 per kwh or down by 14-centavos from the previous month’s billing.

The area’s power rates had gone down by more than P2 since the months April and May last year, which saw the basic rates breaching the P8 level per kwh.

The drastic increase in the power rates last year was mainly due to the skyrocketing ancillary charges that were passed on by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) to local distribution utilities in Mindanao.

The NGCP said the ancillary charges, which increased to P136.16 million in March and P386.9 million in April, refer to payments for “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.” (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)