MCCI to Visayan Electric: Lower electricity rates

·3 min read

THE Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) is calling on Visayan Electric Company to renegotiate its contract with power generators to lower the cost of electricity in their franchise area.

The MCCI wants the Visayan Electric to renegotiate the prices of two of the highest power producers for the distribution utility--power generators Cebu Private Power Corp. and Green Core Geothermal Inc.

“A year into the pandemic and everyone is still trying to rise above our different problems. It is very difficult to recover when the businesses are saddled with debts and financial obligations that are piling up. While there are people and businesses that are already in the recovery phase, there are still those who have yet to get back on their feet,” said MCCI president Steven Yu in a statement issued Tuesday, April 6, 2021, noting that both the public and private sectors are still dealing with the effects of the pandemic.

“The MCCI is willing to participate in this process and work with Visayan Electric to find a reasonable solution to this problem, of course within the bounds set by regulatory rules,” he added.

Visayan Electric declined to comment on the issue.

Moreover, Yu said lower power rates would be a big help to Visayan Electric’s residential, commercial and industrial customers.

“It cannot be denied that Visayan Electric did its part to provide electricity when the different areas in its franchise plunged into lockdown last year. Thank you for that. But we would just like to ask one more thing from you. Please consider renegotiating your contracts with your power generators, especially those with really high prices,” he said.

CCCI’s appeal

The Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) also had asked the Visayan Electric to lower its power rates to raise Cebu’s competitiveness and attract more business locators and investments.

The chamber sought the help of the Regional Development Council (RDC) 7 through RDC’s Economic Development Committee to tackle the issue and request the national government agencies to look into the matter.

In a letter dated Jan. 4, 2021, Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) chairperson and chief executive officer Agnes Devanadera directed the Visayan Electric to submit an explanation regarding the high electricity rates charged by it and its perceived violation of Section 45 (b) of Republic Act 9136 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira).

Section 23 of the Epira mandates that distribution utilities, Visayan Electric included, have the obligation to supply electricity in the least cost manner to its captive market, subject to the collection of retail rate duly approved by the ERC.

“For the longest time, we have been complaining about Cebu’s high electricity rates. We hope that ERC’s probe on Visayan Electric’s rates will eventually result in cheap power that will propel Cebu to be more competitive, especially in this time of pandemic where many are suffering. Visayan Electric’s decision to lower the cost will be its greatest legacy to Cebu, the very place where it came from,” said CCCI president Felix Taguiam in past interviews. (JOB)