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Giant Geothermal Energy Production Project in Sorsogon
« on: October 20, 2010, 08:57:03 AM »
By Danny O. Calleja

Sorsogon Electric Cooperative (SORECO) II covering the first district of Sorsogon province that plays host to a giant geothermal energy production project is looking for a power supplier vice the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM).

WESM is a creation of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001 that opened a venue where electricity from power-producing companies are centrally coordinated and traded like any other commodity in a market of goods in a level playing field with prices driven by the law of supply and demand.

The WESM in its web site said its role in the country's overall energy reform is to create a fair, transparent and reliable trading environment that will attract investments and encourage healthy competition leading to the ultimate objective of cheaper electricity for all consumers.

SORECO II wants another supplier to dispel the exorbitant power rates of the WESM that trigger considerable amount of increases owing to its higher generation and system loss charges, among others, Isagani Mendoza, a member of the cooperative’s Board of Directors, on Tuesday said.

“We have been under the mercy of WESM since last month when the government-owned National Power Corporation and Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) Corporation did not renew our supply contract,” Mendoza said.

No explanation could be had as to why the NPC/PSALM declined to renew its supply contract with the cooperative and Mendoza said they themselves at the Board do not have the exact idea to answer the question correctly.

A flier of notice being distributed by the cooperative to its member-consumers says that “since last August 26 and until a new supplier is found, SORECO II had no choice but derive its power supply from the WESM and pay whatever amount it would charge.”

Similar to the stock market, power rates of WESM are not permanent. They may increase or decrease based on the Time of Use (TOU) and prevailing cost, it explained.

Immediately affected, the flier said the generation charge and whatever the amount billed upon the cooperative will also be the amount it would collect from the end users.

The rise or fall of the generation charge will also affect the system loss charge being collected by the cooperative from its member-consumers and that explains why the same charge along with the generation charge also increased during the latest statements of account received by each of them, it said.

The other items in the bill like the distribution, supply and meter reading charges remain at their original rates and will not be moved unless ordered by the Energy Regulatory Board (ERC), the flier added.

Percival Alvarez, the SORECO II general manager said “we are doing our best to find a new supplier that can be of help to the cooperative and could provide unwavering power service to all its nearly 500,000 member-consumers”.

“And until we find one, Alvarez said, “our situation will be similar to the fate of most of the cooperatives and power distribution utilities in the Bicol region or elsewhere in the country whose supply contracts were not renewed by the NPC/PSALM: enduring the higher cost of power supply from the WESM”.

Power bills covering consumption between August 26 and September 30 issued by SORECO II to its consumers over the weekend carries with it the additional burden: generation and system loss charges up by a total of over P2 per kilowatt-hour (kwh) of consumption compared to the July-August billing when the cooperative’s supply contract with the NPC was still in effect.

From P4.8514 per kwh in July-August, the generation charge rose to P5.9429 in August-September.

As a result, a household that consumed 100 kwh between August and September had to pay about P1,400, some P400 more that what was charged for the same amount of consumption in the previous months when the supply was still from the NPC. Rate of electricity in the province reaches over P10 per kwh.

Mendoza said, the situation is very unfortunate for the first district of Sorsogon that covers this city where the Bacon-Manito (BacMan) geothermal energy complex of the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) sits at an expansive reservation covering Mt. Inang Maharang at the boundaries of Bacon area and Manito, Albay.

BacMan, from where the Luzon Grid draws 110 megawatts of energy is also where the geothermal power plants of the NPC that converts the geothermal steam into electricity are situated.

Meanwhile, the SORECO II over the weekend announced that it is already accepting applications for the five percent discount in power consumption of senior citizens.

The privilege is in connection with the implementation of Republic Act 9994 or the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010, according to Alvarez.

Qualified for the rebate, he said are senior citizens whose electricity consumptions do not exceed 100 kwh per month. - PNA

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