THE Electric Cooperative – Member Consumer Owners (EC-MCO) United Inc. has filed a petition for intervention before the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) seeking to join Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) in its efforts opposing a planned electricity rate increase that would affect consumers in Benguet and Baguio City.
In September of 2022, TeaM Energy Philippines Corporation (TPEC), BENECO’s partner independent power producer (IPP) since 2003, as well as TeaM Sual Corporation (TSC) filed a motion for rate adjustment before the ERC, seeking to increase power rates in their Electric Power Purchase Agreement (EPPA).
As the motion’s passing would lead to higher rates for BENECO, the cooperative filed its opposition to the motion before the ERC on October 17, 2022 which was received by the commission on November 29 the following month.
As a representative to the member-consumer-owners (MCOs) in Baguio and Benguet, EC-MCO United Inc. has on March 10 filed a petition for intervention, asking to be included in the progression of the case on the side of BENECO.
According to Daniel Ducayag, EC-MCO United Inc. representative, while the ERC has settled prior the formula that must be applied in the EPPA between TPEC and BENECO and therefore will not entertain interventions, which led to the denial of the first petition to intervene on February 23, Ducayag maintains that the motion for rate adjustment can be intervened with, as it looks to establish a new formula for the EPPA, which includes the increasing price of coal used for the production of energy.
Rising coal prices increase the generation charge of the power producers, which account for more than 50 percent of residential power rates of consumers. Prior agreements saw the generation charge pegged at P3.85 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in 2020, but the applied rate has increased to P5.73 per kWh as agreed upon starting August of 2022, leaving BENECO to transmit the increased costs to consumers.
According to Ducayag, allowing the motion to pass would see even higher electricity bills making their way to the more than 220,000 accounts serviced by BENECO.
As there would be no other recourse than to accept the increased power rates should BENECO’s opposition be rejected and the motion for rate adjustment passed, Ducayag said that he and EC-MCO, representing consumers in Baguio and Benguet, fulfill the requirements for intervention, which are that the intervening party have legal interest or stand to directly gain or lose from the proceedings of a motion, and that the intervenor’s rights may not be addressed in a separate proceeding.
“The impact of the rate adjustment on the consumers in BENECO’s franchise area cannot be gainsaid. These consumers therefore have a right to be heard which can only be achieved through the instant Petition for Intervention,” Ducayag stated in his petition.