P10 power rate hike looms in Agusan del Sur

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SAN FRANCISCO, Agusan del Sur—Residents of the province are likely to enjoy uninterrupted electricity supply by August but pay as much as P10 per kilowatt-hour more every month.

The Agusan del Sur Electric Cooperative (Aselco) is securing a loan from the National Electrification Administration (NEA) to buy generators.

The loan is part of the solution offered by Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla to Mindanao electric cooperatives at a recent meeting in Manila over the island’s power crisis. The solution, however, entails higher power costs.

Engineer Emmanuel Galarse, Aselco general manager, said the Aselco board of directors decided on securing the loan which carries an interest rate of 6 percent per year and a grace period of two years.

Aselco, he said, has the option of buying the generators after using these as stopgap measures or returning the units to the government.

The government has offered two other options to power cooperatives—rent diesel generators for P1.4 million per megawatt per month or buy their own generators for P22 million per megawatt.

“We find the third option to be ideal for us considering our financial capability,” Galarse said in a press conference on Monday.

Aselco has been suffering from a deficiency of 10,000 kW per month, which is expected to peak to 13,000 kW this month.

Demand for electricity from Aselco has reached an average of 23,000 kW per month.

Consumers are starting to complain against the higher costs that solutions to the crisis will bring.

Renato Navarro, a government worker, said low-income families like his would be burdened by an additional P400 per month in power expenses. “Why can’t the government subsidize this or scrap the 12-percent value-added tax?” Navarro said.

Frederico Blanco, chair of San Francisco Growth Enhancement Multi-Purpose Cooperative, said he hoped Aselco would not resort to the expensive solution.

The cooperative, in response to a flood of complaints, has divided its brownout schedules into three at one-and-a-half hours daily. Chris V. Panganiban, Inquirer Mindanao

 

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