COTANGENT – By Daphne Cardillo
In its continuing advocacy for consumer protection of the electric consumers the National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms (NASECORE) has been conducting an information drive for electric consumers to make a stand on the pressing power issues in the country, especially with the inevitable privatization of the power sector. When the Electricity Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) was passed in 2001 the generation, transmission, and distribution of power has been privatized. This led to the unmitigated increases in power rates as electricity is now under the control of big business owned by the oligarchs.
The need to protect the public primarily in the consumption of a basic commodity such as electricity from the consequences of corporate greed and State neglect is a call for all concerned. We must be aware of the mechanisms behind this power consumption as they affect our daily lives, exacting us payment for every kilowatt-hour of electricity we consume in our homes, places of work and recreation. Every individual living in this highly technological world consumes electric power, even a child who needs good lighting and proper ventilation while asleep.
Thus in its efforts to empower the electric consumers, NASECORE Leyeco II Chapter along with the Tacloban City Federation of Senior Citizens (TACFESCA) have been holding an Electric Power Forum at the Balyuan Convention Center every Friday since August 5 of this year until September 9. Each session runs from 1:00-5:00p.m., and is open to the public. Concerns like where our electric power is being sourced, how we are being charged of our electric consumption, accountability of our electric cooperative and other related matters are being articulated and discussed.
But ownership and reduction of power rates are the two pressing issues that are being addressed in this six weekly forum. NASECORE has been fighting for the registration of the electric cooperatives under the Cooperative Development Act and thus the conversion of our own Leyeco II into a real cooperative which is owned and controlled by its member-consumers. Leyeco II is still under the control and supervision of the National Electrification Administration (NEA), the latest report of which is planning to amend its law mandating each electric cooperative to become a stock corporation.
The push for the reduction of power rates is from an alleged over collection by Leyeco II of the Members Capital Contribution (MCC) for several years and which remains unaudited. It was further revealed through Leyeco II’s record of expenditures that the electric cooperative has been spending beyond the allowed limit set by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for regulated utilities. NASECORE has long been advocating for transparency and accountability in the operation of the electric cooperatives for the benefit of the electric consumers.
If the rate in our electric bills can indeed be reduced then that would be a breather for the state-owned Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp (PSALM) is filing a petition at the ERC “to collect more than P5 billion from all power consumers in Luzon and Visayas.” This would translate to an 11.57 per kilowatt-hour increase of the generation cost in the Visayas alone over the next five years. The collection is intended to pay for the financial obligations of the National Power Corporation.
At hindsight, it is worthy to note that the TACFESCA is at the forefront in this electricity issues, working hand in hand with NASECORE for the interest and protection of all electric consumers in our area. These senior citizens in their retirement years are not retiring but continue to help in influencing public policy in order to make our community a just and equitable society, leaving behind a noble and inspiring legacy for the young.
August 26, 2011