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98,000 CASURECO II consumers face power outage by Jan. 27

NAGA CITY (Jan 11, 2014) – ABOUT 98,000 power consumers of the Camarines Sur II Electric Cooperative (CASURECO II) in 10 towns of Camarines Sur province, including this prime city of Bicol, are facing an impending power outage after a “notice of disconnection” was issued by the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC), the firm managing power provider Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) and the electric coop now having to pay WESM the amount of P 187-Million for January power bills this year.

CASURECO II spokesman Emmanuel Rojo said the electric cooperative had already paid P 212-Million last Jan. 7 for its December 2013 bill; another P 89-Million is due on Jan.15.

Rojo said that the electric coop’s target collection this month is at least P 300-Million as generation charges of Masinloc, BacMan, WESM and Bicol-Hydro, all power providers for CASURECO II, have increased by 62% or at least by P 9.46 pesos per Kilowatt hour, making total charges soar to P 15.37 pesos per kilowatt hour.

But during a summary hearing on Thursday (Jan.9) at the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 33 in Pili, Camarines Sur, presiding Judge Marvel Clavecilla issued a “freeze order” based on earlier issued Writ of Permanent Injunction, pegging the generation charge at P 4.89 pesos and the distribution charge also at P 4.89, for a total of P8.42 pesos per Kilowatt hour.

The RTC declared that CASURECO’s increase by P 9.47 pesos for the new generation and distribution charges was “unconscionable, unjustifiable and economically deplorable.”

With the current “freeze order,” the electric coop might be not be able to reach its target payment for WESM and this could result in an power outage in the whole CASURECO II areas in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th districts of C. Sur, said Rojo. The payment deadline is Jan.27.

At a press forum convened by Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) chairman Dante Jimenez and the Mariners’ Polytechnic Colleges Foundation consumers group on Friday evening (Jan.10), Naga City Mayor John Bongat said a special session of the Sangguniang Panlungsod will be convened this weekend to give an authority to the City Chief executive to file in the Court of Appeals an injunction that prohibits power firms, PEMC, WESM and the Masinloc, BacMan from disconnecting power supply to CASURECO II.

The Naga City Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NCCI) and other business groups have urged the City government to initiate the move to foil the impending power outage, which would bring millions of pesos worth of losses to commercial establishments in this city. Business groups in the rest of the 10 towns have not reacted to the impending power blackout.

Jimenez said that CASURECO II should protect its consumers and should initiate the filing of charges against the power providers for violating their contract to continuously provide electricity despite the hike in generation and distribution charges “instead of passing the buck to the consumers.”

CASURECO II management had explained earlier that the generation and distribution rate hike started December of last year when CASURECO II was left with no choice but to get 47% of its power source from WESM because of the shut-down of the BacMan geothermal plants due to its annual preventive maintenance and the stoppage of power supply from the Malampaya gas facility. (SONNY SALES)