‘Unconscionable’ power rates in Ilocos slammed by consumers

Bangui Windmills in Ilocos Norte

Electricity consumers, led by the Power for People Coalition (P4P), on Wednesday condemned the sky-high power rates paid by Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur residents despite the former being the home of the Bangui Windmills, which was adopted as a symbol of the campaign of President Ferdinand “Bongbong”Marcos, Jr., a native of the province.

Ilocos Norte residents, served by Ilocos Norte Electric Cooperative (INEC), paid a total unbundled rate of ₱16.767 per kilowatt hour, while Ilocos Sur residents served by the Ilocos Sur Electric Cooperative, Inc. (ISECO) pay a residential charge of ₱16.1192 per kilowatt hour.

For comparison, the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) charges ₱9.7545.

“It is unconscionable for any Filipino to pay more than 16 pesos per kilowatt hour for their electricity, especially in Ilocos, a region not as developed as the National Capital Region, a region that has abundant potential renewable energy, and a region that has recently suffered from a natural disaster. You know you’re really doing something wrong if Meralco looks good compared to you,” said Gerry Arances, P4P Convenor.

Arances pointed to coal as the primary culprit for the high power rates burdening consumers in the region, given the power supply agreements (PSAs) of the two electric cooperatives.

“INEC’s active PSA is with Masinloc Power Partners, which operates the Masinloc coal plant. ISECO has PSAs with Masinloc, GN Power Mariveles, and San Miguel Consolidated Power Corporation, which operates the Limay coal plant. With fossil fuel prices rising since the relaxation of the quarantine and the war in the Ukraine, the situation in Ilocos shows how consumers are punished by the decision of the government and generation companies to rely on coal,” said Arances.

The green energy advocate also warned that the situation in Ilocos can also happen all over the country, as San Miguel Corporation seeks to recover over ₱15 billion in losses from the spike in coal and gas prices.

“Ilocos is a preview of what can happen to consumers if we let companies who forced us to use electricity from coal and gas escape the responsibility of the decision by passing on the costs. These companies decided to use fossil fuels despite the abundance of renewable energy sources in the country, even if fossil fuels harm the environment, are subject to fluctuations in the world market, and can harm people living near their plants. We are asking President Marcos to put his foot down on fossil fuels and commit to the transition to renewable energy at the soonest possible time,” said Arances

Image credits: Alexey Kornylyev | Dreamstime.com

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