Govt eyes Malampaya fund to cut power rates

by The Standard Business – August 03, 2016 at 11:56 pm

from Manila Standard Today

The Energy Department is looking at tapping the Malampaya fund to reduce power rates in the country.

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said among the department’s priority was to help bring down power costs of consumers.

Royalties from the Malampaya natural gas project in Palawan can be used for energy-related projects.

“We have to exert more effort to reduce systems loss in order to lessen the cost of delivery of power to electricity consumers. On our part, we are looking at Malampaya fund to compensate the stranded cost and stranded debts, which are being passed on to consumers. We have to prioritize the welfare of our consumers,” Cusi said in a statement.

Cusi said the direction of the department under President Rodrigo Duterte’s term was geared toward the protection of Filipino consumers.

“We will therefore exhaust all efforts to ensure access to adequate, affordable and reliable electricity as a recognition of the primary importance of power in enhancing the quality of life of all Filipinos, especially those living in the far-flung areas of the country. We can certainly accomplish our goals if we all work together to create the change we aspire to have,” Cusi said.

The Energy Regulatory Commission expressed support behind Cusi’s bid to reduce power rates.

“We will fully support any DOE initiative aimed at reducing electricity rates and will implement national government policies consistent with our mandate to set the rates and protect the interest of the consumers,” ERC chairman Jose Vicente Salazar said earlier.

Salazar assured consumers that ERC was finding ways and means to guarantee that only just and reasonable costs were reflected in their electricity bill.

He said an opportunity to reduce power costs was found in the petition filed by the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. to recover some P27.7 billion of the National Power Corp.’s stranded debt portion of the universal charge in 2015.

Salazar said ERC was closely scrutinizing the petition before it could render a decision.

“The ERC is studying the case meticulously and with a lot of caution since the petition is for pass-on charges.  The case will have to be evaluated on the basis of reasonableness and affordability,” Salazar said.

Alena Mae S. Flores

Cusi earlier directed the department to study all options on how to lower the universal charge being passed on to consumers.

“This is one of the mechanisms that the DOE is considering to lower the price of electricity. We hope to come up with a win-win solution for all affected stakeholders,” Energy Department spokesman Felix William Fuentebella said earlier.