Legazpi City (5 October) -- Albay Gov. Joey Salceda expressed dismay over the benefits other provinces have been reaping from cheaper and clean electricity supplied by geothermal energy fields in Albay.
Salceda cited the Aboitiz Power Corp., an Independent Power Producer (IPP), has recently announced that it is already supplying energy to San Fernando Electric Light and Power Co. in Pampanga.
He said "It is so unfair. Consumers of San Fernando Electric Light and Power Co. are getting cheaper electricity from Albay."
Salceda said that while other provinces are enjoying the geothermal resources from Albay, the province is currently enduring the spikes in power rates imposed by the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC).
The Albay Electric Cooperative (Aleco) has to settle some P982 million in outstanding power bills with PEMC. For the electric cooperative to pay, the amount of P1.63 additional charge on the electric bills will be passed on to consumers as "PEMC debt recovery charges".
According to Salceda, Aleco has been a "problem cooperative" for the past years due to debts from the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Corp. (PSALM) amounting P1.7 billion and with the National Electrification Administration (NEA) amounting to P180 million.
Salceda said that responsible for the mounting unsettled debts of the electric cooperative is the spikes in electricity rates imposed by the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) which according to him the PEMC is the operator of WESM.
He said the irony with it is what Albayanos get from supplying the country with cheap and clean energy - 330MW from Tiwi, Albay since 1976 although lower now at 160MW which the Aboitiz is now operating and by next year the Bacon-Manito (BacMan) would start operation with another 240MW power generation?
He added that the nationalization of the geothermal fields singlehandedly killed Albay tourism after the famous steam bath cubicles locally known as banyos were forced to close, as the natural steam it produces no longer exists.
Second, even if we strip out Aleco inefficiencies, power purchase costs are far higher at WESM and even a similar bilateral supply contract fetched higher costs for comparable volume, he pointed out.
Third, of course, what the province gets is the depletion of its geothermal reserves that deprives future generations of Albayanos of their benefit even as the past generation as well as the present only enjoyed the bragging rights of hosting such national treasure with hardly any financial claw back.
Salceda said he was informed that Aboitiz Power has started supplying San Fernando Electric in Pampanga with power from its Tiwi and MakBan geothermal facilities in Bicol and Laguna, respectively, on September 26.
San Fernando Electric will have Aboitiz Power as its exclusive energy supplier until December 25, 2012.
Salceda quoting a report from the San Fernando Electric Co., said the Aboitiz Power coming from Albay is sold at a cheaper price thus electric consumer in Pampanga pays less because there is no value-added tax imposed on renewable. (PNA Bicol/PIA/mal)