Visayan Electric explores ways to cut power rates

·3 min read

VISAYAN Electric is exploring ways to reduce the power rate in Metro Cebu following its recent dialogue with the business community.

Visayan Electric president and chief operating officer Raul Lucero on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020, said the utility firm is coming up with a plan on how to cut the power rates vis-a-vis the firm’s existing contracts with independent power producers (IPP).

“We still have to calculate how much we can negotiate with the IPPs... We are still starting to talk to them,” said Lucero, adding that they hope to see progress in the first quarter of 2021.

But he stressed that Visayan Electric cannot just modify the contracts they have entered into with the IPPs.

“We cannot really dictate because we also have to respect contracts,” he said.

Last week, the Economic Development Committee (EDC) had urged the Regional Development Council 7 to request national government agencies to act on the issues raised by the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) on the high cost of power as a major hurdle in business competitiveness.

EDC chairman Virgilio Espeleta, citing the latest data from the CCCI, said Cebu’s power rate is the most expensive in the country.

He said, “The 2020 average residential power rate brings to light that Visayan Electric Company’s rate ranks first in the Philippines.”

Dialogue

Cebu’s business community represented by the CCCI, Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu and Philippine Retailers Association held a dialogue with Visayan Electric officials through the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Secretary Michael Dino to seek an explanation from the utility firm on its high power rates, excessive purchases from related generation companies and the ownership of Cebu Private Power Corp., which was under a build-to-operate scheme in 2013.

Lucero said Dino asked if they could bring down further the electricity rate to be near Mactan Electric Company’s residential power rate of P8.84 per kilowatt hour (kWh) and to have a definite timeline on when it could happen.

Veco’s current pricing is at P10.76 per kWh.

“We are still developing plans on how we can reduce the prices of electricity,” he said.

Lucero emphasized that prices of electricity during pre-Covid up to the present had already been reduced by 50 centavos.

“We still have to explore what plans we have to undertake.

From there, if there’s a definite plan, then we will now come up with a timeline on how to implement these plans,” he said.

To compare, the Iligan Light and Power Inc. in Mindanao has a rate of P11.01; Central Negros Electric Cooperative,

P10.70; Panay Electric Company Inc., P10.36; Olongapo Electricity Distribution Company Inc., P10.04; Davao Light and Power Company, P8.92; Subic Enerzone Corp., P8.90; and La Union Electric Company Inc., P8.74.

The rate set by Manila Electric Company per 400 kilowatt-hour is at P9.44, and its rate per 200 kilowatt hour is at P8.85.

The data collected by CCCI came from websites or social media pages of the distribution utilities. / JOB WITH KOC