TABUK CITY, Kalinga – Local officials and residents are now questioning the alleged high-power charges being billed to them by the Kalinga-Apayao Electric Cooperative (KAELCO) over the past several months, saying that such unnecessary charges is uncalled for and wrongly timed.
Gov. James Edubba stated that the more than P16 per kilowatt-hour power rate of the KAELCO might be the highest power rate in the country which is questionable because of the burden that it poses to the ordinary consumers in the province.
He pointed out that the prevailing high power charges of the rural electric cooperative deserves an investigation not only by the concerned local officials but even the regulatory agencies to ascertain where the problem lies and the appropriate solutions that should be undertaken to contain the further increase of the said charges that may no longer be afforded by the people.
The provincial chief executive disclosed that aside from ordinary consumers, businessmen are also complaining of the tremendous increase in their power bills by as much as 300 percent compared to their previous power consumption that caused them to prod local officials to initiate the conduct of an inquiry on KAELCO to explain the skyrocketing increase in its power rates.
Earlier, Vice Gov. Jocel C. Baac vowed to spearhead the conduct of the energy summit anytime this month to look into the said matter and to elicit suggestions and recommendations from the concerned stakeholders on how to effectively and efficiently address the said pressing issue confronting the people of Kalinga aggravated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
According to him, regulatory agencies such as the Department of Energy (DOE), the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and the National electrification Administration (NEA) should have the necessary stop-gap measures to implemented once the power rates of various private power distribution utilities go beyond the prescribed threshold, if there is any, to prevent the heavy impact of the high power rates to ordinary consumers.
Baac claimed that the people of Kalinga deserve a satisfactory explanation from KAELCO and the regulatory agencies what caused the sudden increase in the power charges billed to them because the absence of such justifications will continue to cast doubts on the minds of the consumer.
Kalinga is a potential source of renewable energy such as solar, geothermal and hydro because of the existence of these in various areas around the province.
Some geothermal companies are conducting the requisite exploration to ascertain the feasible areas in the province for the put up of the geothermal power plant while some hydro firms are also conducting the same in addition to the two minihydro power plants in Pasil that were earlier granted the consent of the affected indigenous cultural communities and indigenous peoples playing host to the proposed power plants.