ILOILO CITY, Philippines
21 October 2008
- The Freedom from Debt Coalition has criticized Panay Electric Company for increasing its rates from January to August this year without the prior approval of the Energy Regulatory Commission.
In a complaint letter dated September 10, lawyer Romeo P. Gerochi, chairperson of FDC-Iloilo demanded that the PECO management explain the rates it implemented for the period covering January to August "for it appeared that it deviated from the Commission's duly approved /unbundled rates schedule."
The Commission was furnished by the group with a copy of the complaint letter and directed PECO to submit its comment within 15 days upon receipt of the Commission's letter. FDC received a copy of the said directive last October 16.
"For the month of August 2008, a residential consumer of PECO consuming not more than 180 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per month is being charged an average of P12.83/kWh while the same was paying P10.42/kWh for January," revealed by FDC.
"Although it appears that PECO's rates for the month of January were cheaper if compared to August, its seemingly silent and gradual increase did not undergo the process of a petition and did not have the approval of the ERC," explained Gerochi.
In its May 19, 2004 decision, the ERC pegged PECO's distribution charge at P0.4934/kWh and its generation charge at P3.74/kWh. However, in its August billing, it was found out that PECO's charges have significantly increased – distribution rate is already P0.6321 while generation rate is already P9.2377.
Gerochi averred, "What the figures divulge is that PECO has violated the unbundling of rates schedule approved by the ERC and we believe that again PECO has illegally collected payment from the consumers."
"While electricity consumers in Metro Manila are already complaining against Meralco rates, its monthly average charge is relatively lower at P10.00/kWh. In contrast, PECO consumers are paying close to P14.00 per kWh monthly," stressed Ted Aldwin Ong, secretary-general of FDC-Iloilo.
Ong also points out that "Iloilo City has the most expensive electricity in the Visayas region. Consumers in Cebu under the Visayas Electric Cooperative (Veco) pay P7.16/kWh while Bacolod consumers under the Central Negros Cooperative (Ceneco) are only paying an average of P5.48/kWh."
"This makes electricity in Iloilo City a 'luxury good.' No wonder only the rich can sustain availing the services of PECO. Its unjust rates are driving poor income family to resort to unlawful acts like pilferage," explained Ong.
According to the group, "at 12.83/kWh, a household with a pulled earnings of P5,000 a month spends close to 50 percent (or P2,200) of its monthly income for PECO's electricity alone. For a minimum wage earner, this enormous amount could cripple its capacity to provide for the most essential needs of its family such as food, education, and health care."
"The unauthorized increases of PECO are robbing people of money necessary for its day-to-day survival. This abusive practice indicates that power privatization will never benefit the consumers. It only breeds inefficiency, monopoly, and lack of public accountability," declared Ong.
"While we vow to oppose PECO's rates increase petition before the ERC, we challenge the regulatory body to take immediate action on our complaint by ordering PECO to reduce its rates and return to the consumers what they illegally collected since January," concluded FDC. -30-
Freedom from Debt Coalition-Iloilo Chapter
Apt D., Gerochi Law Office Compound, La Paz District
5000 Iloilo City, Philippines
Telefax: (63-33) 509-2028 *Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Atty. Romeo P. Gerochi, Chairperson, @ +63 919 575 5658
Ted Aldwin Ong, Secretary General, @ +63 915 774 7413