The Energy Regulatory Commission has set the hearing of the application of Central Negros Electric Cooperative to be allowed to refund, collect over and under-recoveries, in Bacolod City, 9 a.m. June 8.
ERC granted the demand of Bayan Muna for the transfer of the hearings for rate increases to Bacolod, instead of its main office in Manila.
Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia had also filed an opposition to the application of CENECO to collect from its consumers P414.6 million, and asked ERC to suspend the hearing of the case until CENECO conducts consultations with consumer members and explain the purpose, reason and effect of the application for under-recovery.
Acting Permits and Licensing head Vicente Petierre III, who represented Leonardia, said the city will also file a petition for intervention with the ERC through the mayor, because if one is only an oppositor, he can only oppose but cannot cross-examine the witnesses.
Petierre said it was only Leonardia who submitted a written opposition to the application of CENECO to collect from its consumer members under-recoveries amounting to P414.6 million, because the city has a moral obligation to oppose or intervene under the general welfare clause of the Local Government Code.
He said that during the April 26 hearing, Commissioner Rhett Roswell Mislang allowed them to conduct clarificatory cross-examination regarding the figures presented by the auditor of CENECO.
Petierre said CENECO was ordered by the ERC make a clear presentation to make the consumers understand their figures.
Based on the Rules and Procedures of the ERC, a consumer's forum can be called before CENECO starts presenting its evidence, he said. So the mayor will push for a consumer's forum to be conducted in Bacolod where CENECO will explain in detail to its consumer-members why the under-recovery has reached P414.6 million so they will understand, he added.
Petierre noted that from 2004 to 2010, the total under-recovery totaled P118 million. However, in 2011 alone, it has reached P296 million, he said, which CENECO should explain to its consumers.
Based on the statement of CENECO, they had no choice because they only complied with the order of ERC, Petierre said. But it is not true that the figures came from ERC because it was the electric cooperative that supplied the figures using the formula of ERC, he said.
ERC had also given the electric cooperatives only until March 31, 2012 to file their over or under-recoveries, he added
Mislang said it is up to CENECO if it wants to withdraw its application for under-recovery and there will be no penalty imposed if it does, Petietrre said. The point is that CENECO has the discretion to withdraw its application, he said.
Petierre said CENECO will collect the P414.6 million in three years and on March 31, 2015, there will be another round of application for over/under-recoveries covering 2012 to 2014.
He said the estimated number of CENECO consumers is about 140,000 and 70 to 80 percent are in Bacolod City.
Petierre said the city has not received a copy of the application of CENECO but only a notice from ERC regarding the hearing on the under-recovery of P414.6 million. So ERC ordered CENECO to provide the city a copy of their application with the Commission, he said.
Also at the hearing were Bacolod City Agriculturist Goldwyn Nifras, who also represented Leonardia and Councilor Archie Baribar, who was authorized by the Bacolod Sangguniang Panlungsod, as chairman of the Committee on Energy.*CGS