Socoteco II power rates up

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/26 November) — Electricity costs went up by at least P0.31 per kilowatt hour for November following the disruption of power supply early in the month as shown in the latest billings released by the South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative (Socoteco II) this week.

Socoteco II institutional services manager Geronimo Desesto said power costs went up following a P0.238 spike in the generation charge imposed by Therma Marine Inc. from where the utility firm sourced its supply shortfall when one of the two power plants of STEAG in Misamis Oriental was shut down for preventive maintenance.

Transmission and systems losses costs also increased by P0.07 pushing the power rate increase to P0.31 per kwh (kilowatt hour).

“Tamaas din ang transmission cost kasi tamaas ang generation charges.  Sa Therma Marine natin kinuha yung kulang,” (Transmission and systems losses costs also increased because we sourced our shortfall from Therma Marine) Desesto explained.

The cost of electricity is expected to drop in the December billing of Socoteco II.

Socoteco II general manager Rodrigo Ocat however said power rates could go as high as P6.24 per kilowatt in February next year when the power sales agreement between the electric cooperative and Therma Marine takes effect.

At the moment, Socoteco II is charging its consumers an average of P5.45 per kilowatt hour to include value added tax.

Ocat said they have entered into a contracted with Therma Marine Inc. for an 18-megawatt supply to cover up for the announced reduction of supply from the National Power Corporation (Napocor or NPC).

Therma Marine is owned by the Aboitiz Power group which purchased two of NPC’s power barges that have combined capacities of 220 megawatts.

The NPC had earlier announced that it can only supply up to 70 percent of total requirements of Socoteco II starting next year, according to Ocat.

Supply could go down further upon notice because of the delicate and declining available capacities from NPC’s generating plants.

Socoteco II needs a base load capacity of at least 70 megawatts by early next year.  The power distribution firm however has a peaking requirement of 107 megawatts.  Demand for power supply is expected to increase once mall giant Shoe Mart (SM) opens in the second quarter of next year.

Power supply and sales agreement between Socoteco II and NPC have been shortened to three years due to precarious and declining generating capacities of the state-owned power company.

Socoteco II has also entered into a power supply agreement with the Alcantara-owned Sarangani Energy Corporation (SEC) which is building a 200-megawatt two-phased coal fired power plant in Maasim, Sarangani.

The power plant is expected to start generating electricity late 2014.

Representatives from both Socoteco II and SEC said they expect power supply to stabilize and power rates to go down once the new power plant begins commercial operation.

Investors and stockholders of SEC were in Maasim Friday to lead the groundbreaking ceremonies of the power plant project which is estimated to cost a total of US$450 million or P19.4 billion. (Edwin G. Espejo/MindaNews)