If the Energy Regulatory Commission approves the request of Central Negros Electric Cooperative to collect under recoveries totaling P414.6 million, it will mean that consumers will be charged 20-centavos more per kilowatt hour for three years, CENECO president Arnel Lapore said yesterday.
Lapore said the claims of the cooperative for under recoveries will enable CENECO to survive.
A hearing on the petition of CENECO, which was opposed by the Bacolod City government, BAYAN Muna, the Social Action Center of the Diocese of Bacolod, and other concerned consumer groups, was presided over by ERC hearing officer Ronaldo Gomez yesterday at CENECO.
At the hearing, CENECO made a presentation on their claims with the legal basis, content, figures and schedules of the under recoveries from the previous years up to 2011.
Lapore said they want the public to understand that the matter is legitimate.
CENECO general manager Sulpicio Lagarde Jr. assured the public that they will never implement any rate increases without ERC approval.
While they want to recover their under-recoveries as early as possible, he said he believes the ERC will grant them a 7-year recovery period. The effect will be a maximum of 9 centavos per KWH and a minimum of 3 centavos per KWH, he added.
Lapore said that if CENECO will continue to absorb the under-recoveries, it will not be able to survive in the next two years. The factors of these under recoveries include the mis-matching of costs from generation, transmission and system's loss, he said.
“I can attest that these recoveries are not by reason of inefficiency but of restructured formula,” he added.
ERC has recognized this defect in the structure of rates and all power cooperatives in the country are experiencing the same situation, he also said.
Gomez said the hearing yesterday did not go through the pre-trial conference since the intervenors were not able to file their pre-trial briefs. That is why they had to cancel the hearing, he said.
Meanwhile, Vicente Petierre III, who represented the city, said they will file their opposition to the motion for provisional authority filed by CENECO with the ERC to allow the cooperative to collect first the under-recoveries, because there are many questions raised before CENECO that were not answered during the hearing yesterday.
He also asked CENECO to provide them copies of its income statement from 2004 to 2011 so they can study the figures it presented.
Petierre said they will file a manifestation asking that subsequent hearings will be conducted in Bacolod and not in Manila.
Councilor Archie Baribar, chairman of the Committee on Energy, said the Sangguniang Panlungsod will propose a resolution requesting ERC to hold subsequent hearings in Bacolod until the proceedings are finished because of the enthusiasm shown by consumers.
He will also work with the Office of Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares and the Office of the Mayor so they can make a very good presentation on the issue, he said.
Colmenares said he believes the application of CENECO is not transparent since the oppositors and intervenors do not know the basis for the systems loss as there was no breakdown of items, like pilferages, technical and non-technical systems loss, etc.
He said Bayan will also oppose the transfer of the hearing to Manila since the April 25 decision of ERC chairman Zenaida Ducot is clear that subsequent hearings will be in Bacolod. Now they have changed their minds, he said.
Colmenares said the application of CENECO is unfair, unjust, illegal and a violation of various laws or the protection of public interest. So it must fail with a resounding “no” from the ERC, he said.
Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. said local governments and the consumers should oppose any pass on recovery charge. If not stopped, they can explore legal remedies like seeking a temporary restraining order, he said.
Also present at the hearing were representatives of the Social Action Center, labor groups, and consumer-members.*CGS