While Holy Week is still two weeks away, electricity consumers are forced to bear the burden of the cross this early. This month, consumers expect a flurry of rates increases to hit them within the next few days.

The Freedom from Debt Coalition reiterates its opposition against continued power rates increases brought by government's perennial mistakes. With prevailing high electricity rates averaging P7 per kilowatthour, consumers can no longer bear another round of rate increases.

But we see that the government remains indifferent to the public's sufferings from successive power rate hikes. News reports quoted ERC Chair Rodolfo Albano as saying that the ERC will resolve Napocor's P1.87/kWh rate increase petition early this month. In September 2004, ERC granted Napocor an average of P0.98/kWh provisional increase.

Aside from Napocor's rate increase petition, another rate increase is in the offing once ERC approves Napocor's P0.40/kWh rate adjustment through the Generation Rate Adjustment Mechanism (GRAM) and a P0.51/kWh increase through the Incremental Currency Exchange Rate Adjustment (ICERA) on or before March 5.

Once ERC grants Napocor's P0.89/kWh rate increase petition and its P0.91/kWh rate adjustment through GRAM and ICERA, consumers are bound to pay P1.80/kWh more in power rates.

For Meralco consumers, this means a P1.08/kWh rate increase in Generation Charges, raising present rates from P4.7753/kWh to P5.8553/kWh.

All of these rate increases are happening because of the government's persistence to woo investors in buying into Napocor's generation assets. In the government's attempt to placate the private sector through continued payments for onerous IPP contracts and its unrelenting promotion of Napocor's privatization, consumers are forced to bear the burden of higher power rates.

Thus, FDC calls for the government to stop passing on the costs of their mistakes to consumers. FDC reiterates its call for the government to cancel onerous IPP contracts and genuinely renegotiate the other contracts by focusing on the purchased power and fuel costs.

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