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PIA Press Release

Beneco assures no power outage this summer but warns of possible increase in electricity cost

by Lito Dar

Baguio City (20 February) -- Despite the pressing concern of El Niņo which has decreased water levels in some hydropower plants in the country, the Benguet Electric Cooperative (BENECO) assured that there will be no power outage this summer season except during regular maintenance schedule and unavoidable circumstances beyond its control.

In a kapihan forum last week, BENECO General Manager Gerardo Versoza said there are other possible sources or power producers which can replace the electricity requirements that the hydro- power plants are supplying.

This was affirmed by BENECO Whole Sale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) Specialist, Mario Gayao. According to Gayao, while hydro-power plants are cheaper, their power generating capacity are hard to control as they are dependent on the water supply, and when they cannot produce enough electricity or power, there are other players who could come in.

Versoza stressed that they cannot guarantee that the generation cost of electricity would not increase during the summer because with the lower generating capacity of hydro-electric power plants due to the low level of water on dams, other power producers who operate on bunker fuels sell electricity at a higher cost.

He also explained that with their existing contract with Tokyo Electric and Marubeni - TEAM Energy (formerly Mirant Philippines) they have been able to maintain the electricity cost and even lowered its rate last month due to the discount provision of the contract.

According to Versoza, the cost of electricity this summer will still depend on the demand as long as BENECO will not buy electricity on the market and will only rely on the 55 Megawatts, the TEAM corporation's commitment to supply BENECO under their contract, then electricity cost would be stable.

Versoza though stressed that this would be hard to achieve since there are certain hours on night (peak hours), where electricity demand goes higher than 55MWatts.

In a related issue, BENECO also announced that the Energy Regulatory Commission, through a department order has granted BENECO a provisional authority to implement a new rate for distribution, supply, metering (DSM) and re-investment charges under the Rules for Setting Electric Cooperatives Wheeling Rates (RSEC-WR) effective this February billing cycle. (PIA) [top]

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