Paleco says power rate hike inevitable

PALECO has yet to confirm power rate increase as it awaits ERC drective.

Power consumers can expect an increase in their electric bills because of the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law, but the Palawan Electric Cooperative (Paleco) said they don’t know yet when this will be imposed.

Paleco cannot impose any increase yet on its member-consumers because the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has not issued any directive following the passage of the tax reform law, according to Marilyn D. Villegas, the Member Education Development Division chief of the electric cooperative.

She said the increase will depend on when the ERC will issue the directive because it is the government body that is tasked to regulate and set power cost ceilings.

“Hindi kami kaagad makaka-increase dahil ang binabayaran ay galing iyan [sa directive ng] ERC dahil sila ang nagre-regulate kung magkano ang babayaran ng mga consumers,” Villegas explained.

She said, however, that consumer-members can already expect an increase in their bills as the TRAIN law affects the price of diesel, which Paleco needs in power operations.

The TRAIN imposes an increase in the prices of all petroleum products, such as Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), diesel, gas, and fuel.

“S’yempre magtataas ang fuel. S’yempre paghahatian iyan ng mga consumers,” she said, stressing they still do not know when as they are waiting for the ERC.

Meanwhile, the Joint Congressional Power Commission (JCPC) and Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian have been pushing the ERC to rewrite its “automatic pass-on mechanism” policy, particularly because even the inefficiencies of the power utilities are being shouldered by the consumers.

Gatchalian said it is about time that the ERC check the policy, which had not been reviewed for the longest time. The review should entail looking at rate approval best practices and regulatory formulas that can help ease the burden on consumers.

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