TABUK CITY, Kalinga – The provincial board is set to conduct an inquiry on the alleged high power rates being charged to member-consumer-owners (MCOs) of the Kalinga-Apayao Electric Cooperative (KAELCO) on August 18, 2022 in response to the clamor of the people for local officials to look into the matter.
Gov. James Edubba stated that this inquiry was supposed to have been scheduled on August 11, 2022 but KAELCO officials requested for a re-scheduling because most of them will be attending the annual gathering of the Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association (PHILRECA) in Metro Manila.
The governor claimed that the latest power rates of KAELCO billed to the consumers are still considered high at more than P16 per kilowatt-hour.
The provincial chief executive said that the upcoming inquiry is not intended to put the blame on anyone but to seek clarification on the factors causing the high-power charges which is no longer reasonable.
Edubba urged the KAELCO to intensify the needed information and education campaign to make people aware of the components of the power bills of consumers and the factors causing the increase in the power rates so that they will understand the real situation of the power industry.
According to him, consumers are questioning the sudden increase in the power rates over the past several months and it is important for KAELCO to be transparent and make consumers and other concerned stakeholders fully understand what they are paying for in their bills.
Numerous residential and commercial consumers earlier questioned the sudden increase in their monthly power bills following reports on the unexplained generation charge passed on by KAELCO to the consumers over the past several months.
Under the pertinent provisions of Republic Act (RA) 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), the generation and transmission charges of power suppliers and the National Grid Corporation (NGCP) are considered to be pass-through charges where the rural electric cooperatives or the private power distribution utilities simply passes these to their respective consumers.
Since March this year, power rates started to significantly increase because of the increase in coal prices in the world market due to the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Coal is the main fuel being used by coal-fired power generation companies to produce quality power being sold to the power distribution companies and rural electric cooperatives around the country.
At present, the prices of coal remain at around $350 to $370 per metric ton which is much higher compared to the less than $130 to $170 per metric ton last year that allowed power rates to be affordable from the COVID-19 pandemic up to the early part of this year.
Edubba expressed hope that KAELCO will be able to satisfactorily justify the continuous increase in the power rates being charged to the consumers for purposes of transparency and to clarify doubts that are being raised by the people on the said matter.