‘EPIRA han pala’

Published by rudy Date posted on May 26, 2011

EPIRA FAILURE: Next month is the 10th anniversary of the Electric Power Industry Restructuring Act (EPIRA) of 2001 that promised much cheaper and more reliable electricity.

This objective has not been achieved. Consumers reel from rising power rates, which are among the highest in Asia, second only to those in Singapore. Recurring blackouts disrupt life and business and destroy appliances.

To top it all, Energy Regulatory Commission executive director Francis Juan said the other day that rates would soon go up since renewable energy, whose adoption is being fast-tracked, is more expensive than electricity generated using crude oil, coal, water (hydro) and natural gas.

Juan told the House committee on energy that electricity produced from ocean waves is likely to cost around P17.65/kilowatt-hour; from sunlight, P17.95; and from wind, P10.37. Compare these with the present average cost of about P11/kwh from a mix of conventional fuel.

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SUBSIDY EXTENSION: One bright item in the committee chaired by Batanes Rep. Henedina Abad was its extending by 10 years the “lifeline” power subsidy under EPIRA to users of 100 kwh or less per month. Senior citizens also get discounts.

The subsidy is to lapse next month, but Abad and other congressmen, notably Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar and Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro City, pressed its extension for another 10 years.

Instead of charging more, Evardone said investors in renewable energy should be able to lower their rates since the law gives them incentives, including income tax exemption and duty-free importation of equipment.

Rodriguez noted that with electricity being a critical factor of economic growth, there must be cheaper and reliable power to sustain the momentum of development.

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SUBSIDY SLAP: But some consumers ask why they have to pay for the subsidy for small users. Such subsidy, they said, should be borne by the wealthy utility owners by dipping into their fat profits.

Emailer monram@gmail.com said: “You would think that your friendly electricity provider, the Meralco formerly of the wealthy Lopezes and now of the wealthy Manny Pangilinan, is giving you all the subsidies aka discounts from out of their pockets and absorbing them in the same way that the not-wealthy jeepney drivers, when they give the hefty 20-percent discount to students and senior citizens, absorb them, probably wondering why the rich have all the fund, este fun.

“ Meralco finances the subsidies from out of the pockets of their costumers by charging them some items in their list of unbundled rates.

“For example, up to Nov. 2006 I had these subsidies in my bill: Lifeline rate subsidy of 10.25 centavos/kwh, or P17 based on 164 kwh consumption that month; and Interclass cross subsidy of minus (-) 21.39 centavos/kwh or minus (-) P35.

“That means Meralco collected from me P17 to fund their discounts to poorer consumers. However, I also got subsidized by some P35, taken from a fund Meralco collected from the commercial and industrial consumers.

“Starting Dec. 2006 I was no longer receiving any Interclass subsidy. Starting Dec. 2009, Meralco charged me these subsidies: Lifeline rate subsidy of 11.25 centavos/ kwh; Cross subsidy of 1.03 centavos/kwh; and Senior citizen subsidy of 0.01 centavos/kwh (added this year).

“So now, residential consumers like me using more than 100 kwh/month contribute to the three subsidies above.” –Federico D. Pascual Jr. (The Philippine Star)

Month – Workers’ month

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