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‘No choice but to extend deal with Kepco’

BY ADRIAN P. NEMES III

Central Negros Electric Cooperative acting general manager, Danny Pondevilla, said they were left with no choice but to extend the current contract with Kepco-Salcon Power Corporation for the delivery of 40-megawatt base load electricity supply for a year.

Pondevilla attended the virtual public hearing conducted yesterday by the Sangguniang Panlungsod Committee on Energy, chaired by Councilor Archie Baribar, who sought an explanation on why the 10-year agreement of Ceneco and Kepco was extended.

Pondevilla said that when the competitive selection process was conducted in April, the members of the Ceneco Board of Directors were weighing whether to award the delivery of the base load power supply of 20MW for the next 10 years to Kepco or give it to the Energy Development Corporation.

RENEWABLE

He said Kepco proposed to supply power at P3.29 per kilowatt hour while EDC’s cost was at P3.31/kWh, adding that they were bent on choosing the latter since it was offering a renewable energy.

But Pondevilla said the Third Party Bids and Awards Committee already awarded the contract to Kepco despite an opposition from Konsyumer, an electricity consumers’ group, filed before the Department of Energy.

In a meeting with the board, Ceneco corporate and planning head, Norman Pollentes, said the current accord of the firm and Kepco for the supply of the 40MW base load power was set to end on May 25.

Since the new contract is still under process and questions regarding it should be clarified by the DOE, Ceneco decided to extend the contract with Kepco for another year, but at a reduced capacity of 20MW instead of 40MW at P3.29, Pondevilla said.

He said that Kepco is not amenable to the reduction of the power capacity and the contract price as they want to retain the old one, based on the agreement they signed 10 years ago.

Pondevilla stressed that they have to agree because to have another rate, aside from what is written in the current contract, will need approval from the Energy Regulatory Commission on top of the procedures that must be complied with, leaving Ceneco to the volatile price in the market.

APPROVED BY ERC

It is not true that the members of the board of directors of Ceneco set a higher rate since it is based on the rate signed previously and approved by the ERC 10 years ago, Pondevilla clarified, amid insinuations from several groups, adding that they are hoping that everybody will understand the situation and not make conclusions out of hearsay.

HOUSE INQUIRY

The position paper of Power Watch Negros Advocates Inc., requesting for congressional inquiry on the Kepco-Ceneco deal, was submitted yesterday to the office of Rep. Francisco Benitez (Neg. Occ., 3rd District) in Victorias City.

Power Watch Negros secretary-general Wennie Sancho took the initiative in the light of the present controversy in Ceneco involving power supply agreements.

Power Watch Negros believes that only a congressional inquiry could result in full disclosure amid allegations of over-contracting, overpricing, and other irregular practices that result from the unabated power rate increases at the expense of Ceneco consumers, he said.

The group said that while they recognize the need for more energy or power supply, “what we want is better and efficient services for the consuming public in all areas of concern, from brownout to disconnection, from purchase of equipment to business transactions.”

DEMAND FOR TRANSPARENCY

“Above all, we demand transparency, honesty, and integrity in the management of Ceneco as an electric cooperative” it added.

The group said their goal is to eliminate corruption and mismanagement in distribution utilities that tend to artificially inflate prices. “Open the books of Ceneco for comprehensive audit. A performance and technical audit must be conducted to insure if contracted capacities are optimized and actually delivered as consumers should not be made to pay for the electricity they did not consume,” it added.*

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