Power interruption hits energy summit in Iloilo

Published March 22, 2019, 3:30 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Madelaine Miraflor

A 10-minute power interruption hit the Iloilo Renewable Energy Summit, which is being held today to address the issues surrounding the power sector of Visayas.

(Murang Kuryente Partylist Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)
(Murang Kuryente Partylist Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)

“Even in an event attended by power distributors, we are not spared from the power interruption. This just goes to show how broken the electrical system is in Iloilo and the rest of the country, despite us paying sky high rates to electric companies,” said Gerry Arances, Murang Kuryente Partylist nominee and a speaker at the summit.

Right now, Iloilo currently has some of the highest power rates in the Philippines.

The summit was called due to the problems besetting the power sector in Western Visayas, particularly in Iloilo City.

The summit, jointly organized by the Murang Kuryente Partylist and Archdiocese of Jaro, was attended by representatives from the Department of Energy (DOE), energy companies MORE, PECO, and WeGen, civil society, as well as consumers and communities from Iloilo, among its attendees.

Speaking on behalf of consumers, WV Hidlawanay Cooperative Vice Chairman Wilfredo Ortiz said there has always been tension between electric cooperatives and member-consumers here in Iloilo.

“The lack of sincerity in consulting member-consumers in rate adjustments and other important processes have been largely unfavorable to us,” Ortiz said.

Ortiz cited in particular the proposal of Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association, Inc. (PHILRECA), a consortium of electric cooperatives across the country, to pass on to consumers the real property tax of electric cooperatives, as one of the sources of this tension.

“PHILRECA’s proposal to the ERC shows that there is a divide between the interest of the EC and ours as consumers,” said Ortiz. “If ECs are really controlled and managed by the member-consumers as was intended by law, they would work towards lessening the cost borne for by consumers”.

Arances, explaining the role played by Murang Kuryente in the event, said, “The primary consideration, always, is the consumer. They need electricity, but they must never be held hostage by vested interests due to this need.”

Murang Kuryente Partylist, consisting of energy advocates with a long history of defending consumer interests, has consistently challenged attempts by distribution utilities and electric companies in raising prices and lowering standards of service.

Murang Kuryente Partylist and other groups recently intervened in PHILRECA’s proposal and caused the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to suspend the hearing after it was pointed out that the proposal of PHILRECA constituted a rate hike and must be treated as such.

“Murang Kuryente is ready to do whatever is necessary to force power companies to do what they are supposed to do – provide affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy to the public. We are willing to talk to them in a forum like this, or we can bring the fight for consumers to other arenas,” Arances said.