By Mario Casayuran
The Senate energy committee advised yesterday the Aklan Electric Cooperative, Inc. (AKELCO) to invoke force majeure to avoid passing on extra power charges to its consumers during the impending six-month closure of Boracay Island.
The closure of restaurants, resorts, and other commercial establishments on Boracay Island during the effectivity of the closure order would not only result in the loss of jobs, Sen. Sherwin T. Gatchalian, committee chairman, said.
‘’It will also drive down the demand for electricity in AKELCO’s franchise area, as these commercial establishments account for 41 percent of the electric coop’s power demand,” he added.
Gatchalian estimated that from a high of 28 megawatts (MWs), the energy demand of Boracay would drop to a mere four MWs during the closure period, leaving a huge surplus of unconsumed electricity contracted by AKELCO through long-term power supply agreements (PSAs) with various generation companies.
‘’If business goes on as usual, the rest of AKELCO’s customers throughout Aklan, Antique, and Capiz will have to pay an additional P1.58 per kilowatt hour (KWH) in pass-on charges to compensate generation companies for the electricity that is not consumed on Boracay Island. This will result in a total of P178 million in additional charges to be shouldered by consumers over the next six months,’’ he explained.
“That would be an unconscionable burden to put on Visayan power consumers, who already have to suffer through high power rates during the summer,” he said.
To prevent the imposition of pass-on charges, Gatchalian called on AKELCO to invoke the force majeure provisions of its PSAs with the generation companies to temporarily suspend the procurement of unneeded electricity during the Boracay closure period.
“Clearly, the complete closure of Boracay is an unforeseeable event completely beyond the control of AKELCO. This is definitely an instance when force majeure will apply,” the senator said, noting that the forthcoming declaration of a state of calamity in Boracay would bolster AKELCO’s case,’’ he said.
“The state of calamity declaration would also allow the local government units (LGUs) and AKELCO access to calamity funds. These should be used to further mitigate the impact of the Boracay closure on electricity consumers in Aklan, Antique, and Capiz,” he added.