Socoteco warns of “probable increase” in power rates due to TRAIN

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 13 January) —  Distribution utility South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative (Socoteco II) reminded power consumers here and in the neighboring areas to be more responsible in using electricity as it warned of “probable increase in power rates” in the coming months.

Engr. Crisanto Sotelo, Socoteco II general manager, said the area’s power rates will likely increase with the implementation of the excise tax on coal and fuel as provided for in the newly-approved Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion or TRAIN law.

He said the new tax impositions will directly affect the rates since the bulk of the area’s power supply mainly comes from coal-fired power plants.

The electric cooperative contracts additional supplies from hydro, diesel-fueled and geothermal power plants to augment the area’s requirements, he said.

“With the implementation of coal (and diesel) tax hike, Socoteco II reminds all its customers for responsible use of electricity, as power rates increase may be experienced in the future,” he said in a statement.

But Sotelo said they cannot yet release the possible rate adjustments as they are still waiting for advisories from their suppliers regarding the matter.

He said these could take some time, noting the Department of Energy’s advisory that “the new excise tax rates do not apply to the old stocks of products and must be based upon importation and not at the point of sale to the customers.”

Once they implement the rate increases, he clarified that it will not benefit the electric cooperative as these collections will be paid to its power suppliers.

Socoteco II, which has a peak demand of around 140 megawatts, serves this city, the entire province of Sarangani and the municipalities of Tupi and Polomolok in South Cotabato.

It currently draws 49 percent of its supplies or 70 megawatts from the Sarangani Energy Corporation’s (SEC) coal-fired power plant based in Maasim town in Sarangani Province.

It is followed by 38 percent from the hydropower plants of the National Power Corporation-Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management, 9 percent from the Mt. Apo Geothermal Power Plant of FDC Misamis Power Corp., 3 percent from the coal-fired power plant of Therma South Inc., and one percent from the diesel-fired power plant of Peakpower Soccsksargen Inc.

Sotelo said Socoteco II’s tariff structure is different from private utilities like those based in Metro Manila that have published simulations of potential rates.

“We should pursue responsible use of power as a more pro-active approach to ensure lower billings in the coming months,” he added. (MindaNews)