Tell it to SunStar: Reaction to Pachico Seares' column

·3 min read

PLEASE allow me to react to the incisive article by Mr. Pachico Seares on the issue revolving around Veco's high electricity rates. This is also a commentary on all the players -- business sector, politicians, and other stakeholders -- who are complaining, wanting to investigate, and eventually hoping to bring the rates of Veco down.

First off, we are one with these groups in seeking Veco to reduce its power rates. We believe there is always a way to bring cost down, either via reduced generation cost (which comprise around 60 percent of Veco's bill), reducing system losses (this includes running after pilferers, yes we are paying for their stolen electricity), as well as cost cutting and efficiencies in Veco operations.

We have been telling the Cebu Chamber and we are now telling the Cebu City councilors that we are barking at the wrong tree. Cross-ownership -- the fact that Veco owners are also owners of their electricity suppliers -- is not the point.

It sure paints a picture of greed and good for sound bites for Cebu Chamber officials, but if we really want to address the high cost of power, this is not the battle ground, and Veco and its owners -- the Aboitiz and Escano families -- will win if we fight them in the ownership arena.

AboitizPower, which owns the majority of Veco, almost owns the entire Therma Visayas power plant in Toledo. But TVI is just a portion of the supply to Veco. The family may also be part-owners but they only effectively own just around 30 percent of the other Veco supplier, CEDC, which is also in Toledo. Add the also-Aboitiz owned CPPC, and they are still far from the 50 percent sister company supply limit in Veco.

So this argument is pointless and a waste of our time.

What all of us consumers should be running after are Veco's power supply contracts which are currently leaking with fat. And let us begin with its two highest priced contracts -- Greencore (geothermal from Leyte owned by the Lopezes) and the CPPC plant in Carbon Market (owned by the Aboitizes).

People's Oversight Watchdog for Energy Reforms (Power) supported the call of Mandaue Chamber of Commerce in running after these two higher-priced power supply contracts. We in Power are specifically calling for either termination of these contracts or the re-negotiation of these contracts. Bring these contracts into the open via the Competitive Selection Process (CSP) so we can invite other power players to bid and beat the prices of these two power plants.

Power believes that more than just complaining and in investigating, stakeholders should dig deeper and identify pressure points in Veco where we can make the most meaningful impact. And we in Power will continue to work in identifying solutions, working with stakeholders, and educating the consumers on how to effectively bring our electricity rates down.

Jaydar Medrozo

Lead Campaigner

People's Oversight Watchdog for Energy Reforms (Power)

+63 977 273 2153