BROWN OUTS: CHRISTMAS WEEK SCHEDULED OUTAGES IN LEYTE

Typhoon Yolanda has damaged the transmission lines in the Leyte area, causing a shortage in power supply. Leyte provides 1/3 of VECO’s supply for its franchise area. Until restoration works on these lines are completed, we will be experiencing rotational brownouts.

ALSO:  Meralco: No power rate hike in January

There will be no further power rate hike in January 2014 after the record increase in the generation charge for December 2013 of P3.44 per kilowatt-hour. Power regulator Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) ordered Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) on Friday night not to implement further increases in its generation charge for January 2014. ERC ordered Meralco to maintain the January 2014 generation charge at P7.37 per kwh, the original estimate Meralco earlier submitted to the commission after the power firm said the actual figures could be higher than P7.37 per kwh. The order does not change Meralco’s staggered billing scheme for the P3.44 per kwh increase in the December generation charge, which Meralco will collect from its 5.2 million customers in three installments: P2 per kwh in December, P1 per kwh in February and P0.44 per kwh in March.

ALSO: ‘Stop power rate hike’

LAWMAKERS on Thursday asked the Supreme Court to stop Manila Electric Co. from jacking up electricity rates by P4.15 per kilowatt hour, the highest increase in the country’s history. They also appealed to the justices to declare as unconstitutional a provision of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act or EPIRA of 2001 which declared that the power generation and supply sectors were not public utilities, and therefore not subject to regulation by the ERC. In approving the increase without the benefit of a public hearing, which is required by law, the ERC committed grave abuse of discretion, the lawmakers said. EPIRA, the petitioners added, was aimed at promoting competition and penalizing abuses of market power in a restructured electricity industry. Given “the suspiciously sudden and simultaneous shutdown of various power plants” to coincide with the announced Malampaya maintenance, the ERC should not have approved Meralco’s petition barely three days from its submission.


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POWER BROWN OUTS: December 20 to 27, 2013 Scheduled Outages


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MANILA
, DECEMBER 23, 2013 (VECO website) 
Typhoon Yolanda has damaged the transmission lines in the Leyte area, causing a shortage in power supply. Leyte provides 1/3 of VECO’s supply for its franchise area. Until restoration works on these lines are completed, we will be experiencing rotational brownouts.

SCHEDULED SERVICE INTERRUPTIONS ON December 20 to 27, 2013

December 20 to 21 (Friday to Saturday) [1] Time: 9:00 P.M. of Dec 20 to 7:00 A.M. of Dec 21 (10hrs)

Purpose: To facilitate installation of poles (DPWH road widening project) Areas affected: Portion of Municipality of San Fernando including portion of South Poblacion & Tinubdan & ENTIRE Panadtaran, Tonggo, Cabatbatan, Bugho, Magsico, Tabionan, Liburon, Basak, Lantawan, Balud, Greenhills & Sangat

Establishments affected: Lantawan Water Pump, Greenhills Water Pump, Balud Water Pump, Tabionan Water Pump, Brgy Tonggo United Farmers Assn, TWA Inc, Alpine Ice Plant, Multifarms Agro-Ind Dev Corp, RMG Mgt Corp, Cebu Grand Industries Corp, Robina Farms Cebu, Bible Baptist Mission Church, Southern Ind'l Gases Phils, San Fernando Int Svcs & Equipment Corp, Twin Tower Farms Cebu Corp, EEJ Farms Inc

December 27 (Friday) [1] Time: 8:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. (9hrs)

Purpose: To facilitate replacement of pole Areas affected: Portion of Brgy Lamac, Consolacion along Maglasang Rd., including Sitio Sampaguita, Sto. Niño & San Roque, El Monte Verde Subd, Lamac Brgy Hall, Elem School & Gymnasium, Anchor Plastic Mfg, Cottonseed Inc, Yeshua Cares Fellowship, Sta. Lucia Realty & Dev Inc

These interruptions are needed to improve our facilities in the areas mentioned and to further augment our services to our valued customers. VECO apologizes for any inconvenience the temporary loss of power on this day might cause our customers.

Our engineers will exert all effort to restore electric service as scheduled. However, there are unavoidable circumstances wherein restoration may extend beyond the published schedule.

For information please contact our call center at 230-8326.

For those who prefer to receive this schedule via e-mail and/or text message, please log on to www.veco.com.ph and register your account name, account number and e-mail address/ cellphone number.

You will receive an e-mail/text notice ONLY if you will be affected by the Scheduled Service Interruption.

For updates on Scheduled Service Interruptions, visit our website www.veco.com.ph.

In keeping with today’s technology, VECO launches its mobile phone texting service dubbed “Text Broadcast.”

With this new and innovative text service, customers can now report brownouts in their area.

All you have to do is text any of the ff: ASKVECO (space) OUTAGE (space) ACCOUNT ID ASKVECO (space) OUTAGE (space) POLE NO. ASKVECO (space) OUTAGE (space) COMPLETE ADDRESS and send to 391-8326 for Smart, Talk 'N Text & Red Mobile 09229998326 for Sun Cellular & Globe subscribers Customers availing of this info-text service will pay only P1.00 for every text message sent to VECO.

Now you can also inquire your BILL thru text just type ASKVECO (space) BILL (space) Account ID/Number and send to the numbers found above

You may follow VECO on Twitter: http://twitter.com/VECO_Cebu

Become a fan of Visayan Electric Co. in Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/visayanelectriccompany

FROM PHILSTAR

No power rate hike in January By Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 22, 2013 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - There will be no further power rate hike in January 2014 after the record increase in the generation charge for December 2013 of P3.44 per kilowatt-hour.

Power regulator Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) ordered Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) on Friday night not to implement further increases in its generation charge for January 2014.

The generation charge is the cost of power that Meralco pays power plants for the previous month’s supply.

Meralco is allowed to pass this on to consumers through the automatic generation rate adjustment mechanism but it consults the ERC when the rates are too high as what happened in the December generation charge.

ERC ordered Meralco to maintain the January 2014 generation charge at P7.37 per kwh, the original estimate Meralco earlier submitted to the commission after the power firm said the actual figures could be higher than P7.37 per kwh.

The order does not change Meralco’s staggered billing scheme for the P3.44 per kwh increase in the December generation charge, which Meralco will collect from its 5.2 million customers in three installments: P2 per kwh in December, P1 per kwh in February and P0.44 per kwh in March.

Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said the ERC order would not affect the earlier approved staggered billing system.

“That only applies to the December supply month which is applicable on the January billing. That does not affect the previous order of staggered payments which covers the December billing,” he said.

Nevertheless, Meralco first vice president Ivanna dela Peña said the power distributor would have to clarify with the ERC if its latest order would have any impact on the staggered billing scheme.

ERC officials were not available for comment as of press time.

In a Dec. 19 letter to the ERC, Meralco expressed “concerns” that the generation charge for January “will be significantly higher” than the estimated P7.37 per kwh “as the bills of the suppliers are still to be received after the 26th of the month and validated until the early days of the next billing month.”

In rejecting Meralco’s request, ERC cited its mandate “to ensure the adequate promotion of the consumer interest under Section 41 of Republic Act 9136 (RA 9136), as well as its responsibility to validate that no abuse of market power was committed by any of the participants in the spot market.”

The ERC advised Meralco to file a separate request for approval of a recovery scheme for the distributor’s unrecovered generation costs within a 90-day period.

Meralco’s generation charge for December rose to a record high of P3.44 per kwh as a result of the month-long maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya gas-to-power project, and the simultaneous “forced shutdown” of three key power plants in Luzon.

Praised, belittled

The ERC order, meanwhile, drew praises from Malacañang, which considered it an indication of the regulator’s readiness to listen to different sectors, particularly consumers.

“The ERC order appears to respond to calls from legislators, consumer groups and other stakeholders to validate the basis for Meralco’s generation charge that is used as basis for computing power rate adjustments,” Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said yesterday.

“We reiterate the government’s determination to prevent abuse of market power and protect consumer welfare,” Coloma said.

But for Rep. Elpidio Barzaga Jr. of Dasmariñas City in Cavite, the ERC order meant nothing.

“It’s an empty gesture. In the first place, ERC did not approve any adjustment for January. What they told us in the committee on energy of the House of Representatives is that Meralco’s increase of P4.15 per kilowatt-hour would be spread over three months: this month, in February and in March,” he said.

“Their statements were that the three installments would be one-time payments, meaning the December increase will not be billed in January, the February adjustment will not be collected in March and the March increase will disappear in the April bills. Therefore, there is clearly no additional collection for January,” he said.

Barzaga said the ERC order could only mean that there might be an increase for next month that officials of both the commission and Meralco have not revealed to the public and to the House energy committee.

He also said the ERC should have first examined the details and justifications of every centavo increase in electricity rates before approving it.

“They failed in their mandate to protect the interest of the people,” he said, referring to the ERC. – With Aurea Calica, Jess Diaz

FROM MANILA STANDARD

‘Stop power rate hike’ By Rey E. Requejo | Dec. 20, 2013 at 12:01am 5 Solons ask High Court to scrap Meralco move

LAWMAKERS on Thursday asked the Supreme Court to stop Manila Electric Co. from jacking up electricity rates by P4.15 per kilowatt hour, the highest increase in the country’s history.

In their petition, Bayan Muna Reps. Neri Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate; Gabriela Women’s Party Reps. Luz Ilagan and Emmi de Jesus; ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio; and Kabataan Party-list Rep. Terry Ridon sought the immediate issuance of temporary restraining order, arguing that the rate increase come at the worst time possible, with the country still reeling from the effects of super typhoon Yolanda.

The groups also asked the Court to nullify the Energy Regulatory Commission approval of Meralco’s rate hike.

They also appealed to the justices to declare as unconstitutional a provision of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act or EPIRA of 2001 which declared that the power generation and supply sectors were not public utilities, and therefore not subject to regulation by the ERC.

In its letter to the ERC dated Dec. 5, Meralco said it would have to increase rates by P4.15 per kWh for residential consumers because it needed to buy more expensive power following the maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya gas field.

On Dec. 9, the ERC approved Meralco’s request.

In approving the increase without the benefit of a public hearing, which is required by law, the ERC committed grave abuse of discretion, the lawmakers said.

EPIRA, the petitioners added, was aimed at promoting competition and penalizing abuses of market power in a restructured electricity industry.

Given “the suspiciously sudden and simultaneous shutdown of various power plants” to coincide with the announced Malampaya maintenance, the ERC should not have approved Meralco’s petition barely three days from its submission.

The petitioners accused the ERC of reneging on its duty to protect the public from anti-competitive practices and market abuse when it approved the P4.15 increase despite clear indications of irregularity in the simultaneous planned and unplanned shutdowns, the hefty spike of electricity prices that Meralco sought.

“It is really mind boggling that the ERC hastily approved Meralco’s letter request,” the petitioners said, adding that the commission’s actions were also collusion with vested oil interests.

In the Court of Appeals, the Special 16th Division junked a petition filed by the Foundation for Economic Freedom seeking to stop the ERC from hearing and deciding on a petition filed by the National Renewable Energy Board, which is expected to increase power rates to consumers.

Associate Justice Pedro Corales ruled that the petition was moot and academic because the ERC had already ruled on NREB’s petition in October and November.

The Appeals Court also ruled that the ERC had not committed grave abuse in approving NREB’s petition.

The NREB filed the petition with the ERC on behalf of the renewable energy suppliers to adopt a feed-in-tariff for electricity generated from biomass, ocean, run-off-river hydropower, solar and wind energy resources.

The tax on electricity consumers for a period of 20 years would generate money for a subsidy to encourage the development of renewable sources of energy.

The FEF had warned that the taxes from electricity consumers nationwide would reach P11 billion annually for the next 20 years collectible through their monthly billings.

The Palace on Thursday said it was determined “to uphold and protect the citizens’ welfare” and to carry out its mandate to prevent anti-competitive and market abuse practices.”

“In view of this, we support the current Senate inquiry into the recent power rate adjustments. This runs parallel to the on-going investigation of the tripartite committee composed of the Department of Energy, Energy Regulatory Commission, and the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation, as well as that of the Justice Department’s Office of Competition,” Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a press briefing.

Coloma said the Aquino administration hoped that “the Senate inquiry will also lead to concrete proposals on how existing laws can be improved so that the protection of consumer welfare will be assured.”

Senate President Frankllin Drilon on Thursday said if collusion is proved in the recent rate hikes, the appropriate criminal charges would be filed.

Also on Thursday, a labor group criticized Senator Sergio Osmena III for concluding publicly that there was no collusion among power generating companies and Meralco on the rate hike, pre-empting the investigtions by the Energy and Justice departments.

“Serge is a consistent supporter of power industry players since his sponsorship of the EPIRA Law which ushered in the era of high electricity rates to his defense of Meralco’s gargantuan rate hike,” said Wilson Fortaleza of the Partido ng Manggagawa.

Fortaleza was one of the signatories to the complaint against Meralco and generation companies lodged by groups last Monday with the Justice Departments Office for Competition.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima vowed to come up with the findings by January next year. – With Macon Ramos-Araneta, Ronald O. Reyes and Vito Barcelo


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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