Consumers told to bear higher electricity cost | Inquirer News

Consumers told to bear higher electricity cost

/ 06:53 PM December 31, 2013

DAGUPAN CITY—Consumers in Pangasinan have been advised to just bear the higher cost of electricity and be smart power users instead.

Officials of a power distributor in the province said consumers could reduce their power consumption by taking advantage of cheaper rates and doing house chores requiring the use of electricity during so-called off-peak hours, or when fewer people are using electricity.

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Rodrigo Corpuz, manager of Central Pangasinan Electric Cooperative Inc. (Cenpelco), said power distributors in Pangasinan were billed by their suppliers based on their time of use.

However, distributors charge consumers based on the average price of electricity they use during the billing period from their suppliers.

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“So if your consumption is high during off-peak hours and lower during peak hours, the average cost will be lower. This is how consumers can help reduce the average rate of power,” Corpuz said.

Dominador Liwag, retail services manager of Dagupan Electric Corp. (Decorp), said suppliers sold electricity at higher prices during peak hours.

“In the [wholesale electricity] spot market (WESM), cost of power starts to go up at 9 a.m. and goes down starting 9 p.m. But it is highest from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Then it goes up again from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.,” Liwag said.

The WESM was established by the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001. It is where power distributors buy the power they need.

At present, Decorp could charge its customers based on time of use because of the prohibitive cost of metering equipment and the technology for the scheme, Liwag said.

Corpuz said those who would iron clothes, for instance, could do it outside of Cenpelco’s peak hours from 8 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Decorp’s peak hour begins at 2 p.m. when most of its customers are in the commercial area in this city.

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A record increase in power rates in areas being serviced by Manila Electric Co. was struck down by the Supreme Court, which issued a temporary restraining order against the more than P4 per kilowatt-hour rate increase.

The Department of Energy (DOE) and the Energy Regulatory Board (ERC), which has supervision over power rates, are investigating reports of collusion by power suppliers that shut down simultaneously and prompted the rate increase.

But leaders of the militant party-list group Bayan Muna said the investigation appeared to be biased in favor of those being investigated.

In a statement, Bayan Muna Representatives Neri Colmenares and Carlos Zarate said Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla showed he is “bent on protecting the interest of the power cartel instead of consumers” when he told power firms that they could appeal the high court TRO against the power rate increase and for saying that the increase appeared to be aboveboard.

“We are now wary that the DOE-ERC investigation on the collusion of power generators may be whitewashed,” Colmenares said.

Bayan Muna is one of several groups that filed a petition at the Supreme Court, seeking to stop the power rate increase. With a report by Allan Nawal, Inquirer Mindanao

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