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Bohol Light's power rate hike without public consultation?
« on: September 13, 2007, 05:27:40 PM »
By Kit Bagaipo
The Bohol Chronicle

A new method of approving rate adjustments that can be implemented without public consultations by power distribution utility companies is now the subject of opposition by one of the members of the board of Bohol Light Company Inc. (BLCI).

This was learned in a Chronicle interview with former OIC Gov. Victor dela Serna, one of the provincial government's representative in the Bohol Light board of directors.

The new scheme was adopted by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) since April 2006 mandating all power utilities to register into the so-called performance based regulation (PBR).

Under the PBR system, power utility companies will designate the Private Electric Power Operators Association Inc. (PEPOA), an organization created and funded by power utilities, to negotiate with the ERC all applications for power rate increase, Dela Serna said.

Presently, Bohol Light is one of two utility firms that has yet to comply with the PBR system and be a member of the PEPOA.

According to Dela Serna, in order for Bohol Light to be a part of PEPOA, it has to adopt a board resolution for the utility company to enter and execute a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with ERC and PEPOA, authorizing the latter in facilitating all Bohol Light's application for rate increase.

Dela Serna said this new scheme threatens the interest of concessionaires of Bohol Light.

He said, anytime the company decides to raise its rates, it can do so without going through the process of public hearings and authorization from the Sangguniang Panlugsod (or Sangguniang Bayan) of the local government unit affected by the rate hike.

Only the PEPOA, which will now be the liaison of the utility firm, could negotiate increases at the ERC in behalf of Bohol Light, Dela Serna added.

Adopting the PBR system is another way of lessening the workload of the ERC especially in the conduct of public hearings for applications for increase of all privately-owned power distribution utilities nationwide.

The ERC does not have to go to the provinces and individually conduct public hearings on all rate increase applications.

"Bohol Light consumers will wake up one morning without knowing that their electric bills have gone up," according to Dela Serna.

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