BACOLOD CITY: Bacolod City Mayor Alfredo Abelardo "Albee" Benitez will call for a power summit to discuss ways to bring down electric rates in the city.

Benitez said the summit will be attended by power generators in Negros.

The mayor was reacting to the pronouncements of Antonio Mariano Almeda, administrator of the National Electrification Administration (NEA) who said on Thursday that the current rate of Central Negros Electric Cooperative's (Ceneco) generation mix "is very much acceptable."

"I can rule out mismanagement because the prevailing [Ceneco] generation mix is within the accepted price range in the market," Almeda said.

Benitez said he disagrees with Almeda that the generation mix rate is acceptable.

"They are not looking outside the box, there are other sources of power that could be cheaper. I was hoping they would be more proactive in looking for ways to bring down power costs," he pointed out.
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"They should not accept the current situation, they should continue to find ways to bring costs down," he said.

Benitez seeks to unify all consumers and create a local spot market like the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) to buy cheaper electricity from power suppliers, especially biomass and solar power plants.

"We have local power generators who offer cheaper power, but we can't take advantage of it as we have to go through the national power system like WESM. What if they offer us cheaper and discounted rates?" he said.

However, he said we don't have a mechanism for that.

Benitez said he has proposed the idea in a letter to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to allow Ceneco consumers "to aggregate and establish a local spot market to allow us to choose cheaper electricity."

"NEA should respond to the complaints of the consumers, instead of just declaring that there was no mismanagement and the current generation rates are acceptable," Benitez said.

"Ceneco should also explore availing of cheaper power from geothermal plants and other renewable energy sources, rather than from the much more expensive coal plants," he added. Eugene Y.