NONECO explains power rate hike

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CHERYL G. CRUZ

Local government units in the coverage area of the Northern Negros Electric Cooperative were requested to pass respective resolutions urging the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines to immediately repair its Negros submarine power cable.

Noneco, that serves member-consumers in EB Magalona, Victorias, Manapla, Cadiz, Sagay, Escalante, Toboso, Calatrava, and San Carlos, posted a P2.3061 per kilowatt-hour increase in the residential rate for August, or P13.8213 kWh from P11.5152 kWh in July.

It added that the increase in the cost of electricity purchased in the electricity market was due to the critical level of power in Negros and Panay Island, caused by the damaged submarine cable line of the NGCP that connects Cebu and the Negros-Panay area.

Noneco corporate planning department manager, Anthony Lagrada, said during the Noneco Live program early this week that because of the damaged cable, Negros and Panay Islands have a power supply deficit of 90 megawatts.

“To sustain power reliability, NGCP will automatically select the available power plants in Negros and Panay, including diesel power plants, to run just to sustain the line,” he added.

In the case of Noneco, its power generators include the Kepco-Salcon Power Corp. based in Cebu, the Green Core Geothermal Inc. or the Palinpinon plant in Valencia, Negros Oriental, and the Palm Concepcion Power Corporation in Iloilo.

Noneco said the rate increase of more than P2 in the August billing was due to the increase in the cost of electricity purchased from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), from P7.3235 per kilowatt-hour to P9.6015/kWh.

Lagrada said that, as long as the NGCP submarine power cable is not repaired, a continuing increase in power rates is also likely.

The NGCP said earlier it was working to repair one of its 138kV high voltage submarine cables damaged during the dredging and re-channelling activities of the Department of Public Works and Highways at Bio-os River in Brgy. Jagna, Amlan town in Negros Oriental in June.

Because of the damage, transmission capacity is currently limited to 90MW between the two islands, the NGCP said, adding that extent of the damage was fully assessed on June 23 and 24, and coordination was being done with partner foreign technical experts to start the actual repair.

But Lagrada said the NGCP told them that because of COVID restrictions, its contractor and technicians from Japan cannot travel to the Philippines to fix the cable.

The NGCP said it has asked the Inter-Agency Task Force to allow the entry of technicians so that the damage can be assessed and finally fixed, he said.

Lagrada said that when they asked the NGCP for a timeline, it said the submarine cable can be fixed by next year, or Sept. 2022 in a worst-case scenario.

He said LGUs in the coverage area of Noneco have committed to help the electric coop in calling for the immediate repair of the submarine cable. – CGC