By: Francis Allan L. Angelo
THERE IS NO assurance that power rates in Iloilo City supplied by sole distributor Panay Electric Co. (Peco) will go down once it is connected to the Visayas grid via the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).
Engr. Randy Pastolero, Peco vice president for operations, said NGCP’s bid to acquire assets with transmission functions owned by Panay Energy Development Co. (PEDC) is for its own benefit, not the consumers.
NGCP has applied with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to approve its plan to buy PEDC assets at P695 million as it believes it has rights to own and operate such assets under the law.
NGCP said it will lower Peco rates as Iloilo City will have access to cheaper electricity in the Visayas grid and Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM).
Pastolero said NGCP’s concept of getting cheap power from WESM is not instant as it depends on actual trading and prevailing market prices.
Pastolero said NGCP’s aim in acquiring the assets is to capture Peco’s three tapping lines to PEDC and its sister firm Panay Power Corp. (PPC) and meter their consumption for the purpose of exacting transmission charges on consumers.
PEDC operates a 164-megawatt coal-fired power plant while PPC runs a diesel plant in LaPaz, Iloilo City. Both are subsidiaries of Global Business Power Corp, under the Metrobank Group.
“The residents of Iloilo City fought for construction of the plant inside the city for the sole purpose of avoiding transmission charges. If NGCP succeeds in its bid, we will lose that advantage. Consumers will pay an additional P1 per kWh in transmission charges alone,” Pastolero said.
Pastolero said if NGCP wants Peco to connect to the grid, it can do so by tapping its line from their Baldoza substation to PEDC’s 138-kilovolt line which leads to NGCP’s substation in Sta. Barbara.
“The problem is NGCP wants to acquire including the switchyard and other assets inside PEDC’s plant including out embedded lines. Peco and PEDC can always turnover the transmission lines but not the switchyard which also contains the protection schemes of the coal plant which should be operated by the plant owner. That’s not appropriate,” he added.
If NGCP acquires PEDC assets, it can recoup its P695-million investment in less than two years and will continue to earn at least P400 million a year from Iloilo City residents alone as long as it operates transmission lines of the country.
Aside from Peco, the business sector, City government and Senator Franklin Drilon are opposing NGCP’s acquisition bid.