Apart from the cash-strapped Delta P, which has conveyed to the city government its plan to shut down its operations by the end of this month in the wake of rising global fuel prices, the Palawan Electric Cooperative (PALECO) disclosed that other independent power producers are also in a tight financial bind due to their continued failure to collect subsidy payments from the National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR).

PALECO board chair Jeffrey Tan-Endriga told Palawan News late Tuesday that their two other power suppliers, PPGI and DMCI Power Corp., are also affected financially by NAPOCOR’s current inability to pay them the subsidized rate of electricity enjoyed by island grids like Palawan, dubbed Universal Charge for Missionary Electrification (UCME).

“Not only Delta P, lahat sila, including PPGI and DMCI, may mga sulat na sila, nauna lang si Delta P. Kasi lahat ‘yan may collection sa NPC on UCME,” he said.

The city government on Tuesday disclosed that Delta P had informed them they could no longer sustain their operations unless they were able to collect UCME charges from NAPOCOR, currently amounting to some P441,826,773.

Citing their “staggering amount of unpaid fuel bills”, Delta P said they could no longer buy fuel for their power generators as their own suppliers are already demanding that they pay upfront in cash. The company said that they haven’t gotten UCME payments from NAPOCOR since May, and they don’t have enough cash to keep running.

Rising fuel prices, triggered in part by the war in Ukraine, have increased the cost of government subsidies to island grids to more than twice the budget allocation set by Napocor for the current year. The UCME subsidy for the so-called small power utilities group (SPUG) areas that include Palawan is P0.1544 per kWh.

NAPOCOR manager Fred Barrios admitted to Palawan News that they had not anticipated the rapid rate of increase in global fuel and were thus unable to pay IPPs their subsidy payments for the last three months.

“Ang budget kasi namin before pa for the year, siguro ang cost ay P40. Ngayon magkano na ang fuel, P85 na,” he said.

Barrios said that the NAPOCOR head office had already met with power providers in early August and had informed them that the payment would take three to four months, or by around November to December.

“In-inform naman sila through communication na madi-delay na three to four months—alam naman nila’yan pati ni PALECO, mga IPP dito dahil sa cost ng fuel, nag-shoot up, napakataas,” he said.

Meanwhile, NAPOCOR said that Linapacan and Culion are not facing an immediate cessation of power generation, noting that their existing fuel supply is good at least until November.

“May darating pa na buwan nito, siguro ang Culion hanggang katapusan ng November, meron pa silang fuel. Kung sakali pwede pa naman mag-order sila, magtuloy pa hanggang matapos ang taon na ito. Same with Linapacan, ang fuel nila na deliveries na darating ay hanggang December first week,” he said.

Aside from PALECO, there are other Small Power Utility Group (SPUG) electric cooperatives (EC) in Palawan affected by the unpaid UCME, such as Busuanga Island Electric Cooperative (BISELCO).

“Ang info naman ay naghahagilap na ng pambayad para sa kanila para mapunuan,” he added.

Earlier, City Mayor Lucilo Bayron said they are considering making an advance payment to Delta P for the city government’s anticipated electric bills until the end of the year, if only to allow the company to generate cash and make fuel purchases in the short term.

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