ERC passes buck to Visayan Electric

·2 min read

THE Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has advised the Visayan Electric Company consumers to file their complaint on the expensive rates and other questionable charges to the power distribution utility first.

Joel Bontuyan, ERC Visayas Field Office Hub Operations Division chief, told SunStar Cebu that it should be Visayan Electric the one explaining its rates, although those rates were approved by the ERC about 10 years ago.

Bontuyan made the statement after the concerned Visayan Electric consumers, along with representatives of the Philippine Movement for Climate Justice and other stakeholders, urged the ERC to explain the power distribution utility’s alleged expensive rates and other questionable charges in the billings.

Knowledgeable

He said the company is more knowledgeable on how it arrived at its computation of power rates, and this is the reason why it must do the explaining.

But Bontuyan said the only way that the ERC would be compelled to act on a complaint or a case is the filing of a formal complaint. He said their office already received individual complaints concerning the rates charged by Visayan Electric.

Public hearings

Bontuyan said everything has to go through public hearings before the ERC decides whether to approve, deny or modify the application of the distribution utilities.

He said the ERC is not secretive “when it comes to dealing with these applications, in disposing these applications,” adding that everything has undergone public hearings that are always open to the public who can ask clarificatory questions.

Bontuyan said the law requires that at least one of the public hearings should be conducted in the local government unit where the utility is holding its principal office and business address.

Franchise area

Visayan Electric’s franchise includes the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Talisay, Naga and the towns of Liloan, Consolacion, Minglanilla and San Fernando.

As far as Bontuyan can recall, there were representatives of consumer groups present during the public hearings before with the Visayan Electric, including the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

ERC-approved rates

Bontuyan clarified that distribution utilities cannot change the ERC-approved distribution rates. The ERC approved about P2 per kilowatt hour for Visayan Electric.

He explained that the generation cost consists of about 60 percent in the billing because this depends on various other factors such as cost of fuel and foreign currency exchange.

Bontuyan further said it is the generation cost that usually changes every month but the ERC does not regulate it since it only evaluates the distribution utilities and power-generating firms that enter into a power supply agreement.

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