Ceneco refunds P279.5M NGCP congestion charges

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A total of P279,559,295.83 was refunded to Ceneco consumers from November 2021 to January 2022, representing the collection of congestion and other applicable charges due to the damaged Cebu-Negros submarine cable, Engr. Jose Taniongon, OIC general manager of the Central Negros Electric Cooperative Inc. said Feb. 22.

The charges relative to the damaged NGCP submarine cable that were collected in the billing months of June, July, and August 2021 were refunded in the billing months of November 2021, December 2021, and January 2022, respectively, Taniongon said.

“The refund is reflected in the generation rate, and the implementation of the adjustments is based on the computation of the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines,” he added.

In September, the Energy Regulatory Commission directed the Philippine Electricity Spot Market Corporation to stop the collection of congestion and other applicable charges, including but not limited to line rentals, attributable to the outage of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines submarine cable from customers in Panay and Negros, until the complete restoration and operationalization of the transmission line, or until a more applicable pricing and settlement solution is ordered by the ERC.

One of the NGCP’s high voltage circuits was damaged June 15 during the dredging and re-channeling activities undertaken by the Department of Public Works and Highways along the Bio-os River in Amlan, Negros Oriental.

The two circuits of the 138kV submarine cable have a total capacity of 180MW. With the loss of one circuit, the transmission capacity between Negros and Cebu has been halved to only 90MW, and resulted in congestion that limits the available supply.

Consequently, costlier diesel plants have been tapped to compensate for the load required, ultimately setting the marginal costs that define the high pricing in Negros and Panay. The electricity prices have also been influenced by high line rental amounts due to congestion.

The ERC noted that significant increases in the electricity rates of consumers in the subject areas have been observed beginning in their June billing, and have been decried by many stakeholders in Panay and Negros as an unreasonable burden to consumers and businesses.

“The Commission is of the view that the congestion and other charges that are attributable to the damage of the Cebu-Negros Submarine Cable, which was not caused by the consumers, should not be charged to them,” ERC chairperson and chief executive officer, Agnes Devanadera, said in an ERC order dated Sept. 20.

The ERC also directed the PEMC to refund those already collected from the customers in the June to August 2021 billing periods.

Meanwhile, Taniongon said that for the billing month of January 2022, Ceneco implemented the recovery of P12.5-million in Real Property Taxes (RPT) paid for year 2021.

This one-time collection of P0.2018/kWh is a valid pass-through charge, per Section 4.6 of ERC Resolution No. 20, series of 2009, which provides that “current RPTs that are paid by the electric cooperatives are deemed part of their operating costs and allowed by ERC for recovery from all member-consumers, he said in a statement.

He added that Ceneco is authorized as per the ERC resolution to collect the determined RPT from its member-consumer-owners as a separate line item in the bill. | CGC