• Lawmaker to block power rate increase

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    A lawmaker on Sunday expressed opposition to the power rate hike being sought by the National Power Corp. (Napocor) to recover the costs it incurred in the delivery of power to missionary areas totalling almost P2 billion.

    Rep. Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna party-list vowed to block Napocor’s proposal and said that a power rate hike will dampen the holiday season.

    “Magpapasko pa naman tapos dagdag singil sa kuryente naman ang ibibigay sa atin. Dapat talaga ay magtulong-tulong para mapigilan ito [It will be Christmas soon and then we will be given additional charges for electricity. We really should help each other to stop this]. We are now coordinating with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) as to the status of the Napocor petition and we are set to file a motion to intervene to stop these rate hikes. Two years ago we were able to stop the highest power rate hike in Philippine history, we hope that we can do so again,” Colmenares said.

    In December 2013, the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) stopping the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) from implementing a P4.15 per kilowatt hour rate hike and directed the ERC not to implement an order approving Meralco’s request for the rate increase.

    The TRO stemmed from two petitions opposing the rate hike, one of which was filed by lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc that includes Bayan Muna party-list.

    Recently, the Napocor filed a petition at the ERC asking the latter to increase Small Power Utilities Group (SPUG) rates by P2.0627 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) in Luzon, P2.3236/kWh in the Visayas and P1.4584/kWh in Mindanao saying it incurred P1.89 billion in deferred fuel, purchased power and foreign exchange costs in January 2012 to June 2014.

    “It seems that the Napocor (NPC) is trying to pull a fast one especially now that most Filipinos are busy with holiday preparations and the upcoming elections. Fuel prices have been down since last year and at their lowest in decades, why are they saying that they have to recover fuel costs? Iniisahan na naman nila ang mamamayan dito at itataas na naman ang singil sa kuryente [They are cheating the public here and will raise electricity charges],” Colmenares alleged.

    The state-owned firm is mandated by law to provide electricity to SPUG or missionary areas that are not connected to the country’s main transmission system.

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