Hontiveros puzzled at NGCP’s threat to impose higher power rates

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Sunday, August 15 decried the audacity at which the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) warned of future increases in electricity rates if it continues to contract suppliers for larger power reserves.

Hontiveros said she is wondering how the NGCP is bold enough to make such pronouncements as it prepares to comply with a Department of Energy (DOE) policy requiring the lone grid operator to engage only in “firm” contracts.

Last Aug. 11, NGCP warned of further increases in electricity rates along with higher cost of ancillary services (AS) due to this policy.

“Saan kumukuha ng lakas ng loob ang NGCP (Where is NGCP getting that kind of courage)? On the record they said there wouldn’t be any power rate hike even if they engage with ‘firm’ contracts. Why are they threatening us now?” she pointed out.

Hontiveros also noted that the NGCP do not seem to recognize the Energy Regulatory Commission’s (ERC) nor the DOE’s authority to set electricity rates.

Equally perplexing, she said, is the silence of the ERC and DOE on this matter especially when these agencies deliberately opposed NGCP’s position of increasing its charges once it contracts a larger reserve and engages in firm contracts for AS.

“It’s puzzling why despite denying any cyber security audit and inspection...NGCP has always gotten its way despite its glaring violations. Why is the ERC allowing this to happen?” she questioned.

Prior to NGCP’s announcement of a possible subsequent power rate hike, Hontiveros questioned the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco)’s rate hike this August and called for the suspension of any impending rate increases until the investigation on rotational blackouts comes to a conclusion.

Hontiveros emphasized that the price of electricity in the country should instead be reduced by at least P2.00/kWh if the Weighted Average of Capital Cost (WACC) of both NGCP and Meralco be pegged at an acceptable rate.

“Bakit kapag magtataas ng singil ay ora-orada pero kapag naman pagpapababa ng kita ang usapan ay tila inaabot ng siyam-siyam? (Why are they so fast when it comes to increasing power rates, but are slow when they are told to lower the cost)? Our consumers deserve better and more,” she pointed out.

“Umaasa akong mabibigyan ng hustisya ang bawat Pilipinong nagsisikap sa araw-araw may maipambayad lang sa kanilang electricity bill (I still hope justice would be served to each Filipino who strive to work just so they can pay their own electricity bill),” the lawmaker further said.