07:22 PM September 19, 2019
A consumer group questioned the use of a system of grading students on the process of choosing power suppliers in Palawan and Marinduque provinces which the group said removed competitive bidding and raised power rates in the off-grid areas.
Called “rubric,” the group Matuwid na Singil sa Kuryente Consumer Alliance (MSK) said the system is commonly used in the academe as a way of rating students’ essays.
Its use in awarding billion-peso contracts for the supply of electricity is highly questionable but this was what the Marinduque Electric Cooperative (Marelco) and Palawan Electric Cooperative (Paleco) are doing, according to MSK.
Aya Jallorina, executive director of MSK, said the rubric scoring system is highly subjective and arbitrary. Although appropriate in the academe, the system is a “dubious mechanism to award power deals to preferred suppliers.” It also removes competitive biddings which are needed for lower power rates.
“The government should disallow this method of bidding for power supply contracts,” said Jallorina in a statement.
MSK raised this in a letter to Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, Energy Regulatory Commission Chair Agnes Devanadera, Philippine Competitive Commission Chair Arsenio Balicasan and National Electrification Administration Chief Edgardo Masongsong.
The “rubric’’ system is widely used in the academe where students are graded for the quality of their work, like essays and other academic papers. This allows teachers to evaluate quality of student’s work where quantitative scoring is not possible.
Using this system, Marelco, for instance, gives a 50 percent weight to bid price and 50 percent to qualitative and credential scoring which are “arbitrary and selective,” MSK said.
The electric cooperatives had resorted to this bidding method after the energy department disallowed the previous system—Swiss challenge or unsolicited proposals—of selecting its suppliers. But MSK said this leads to “more expensive” electricity which has been “bloating the missionary subsidies of these off-grid areas by billions of pesos every year.”
“We don’t believe rubric scoring is appropriate” for power supply, the group said.
It also pointed to the continuing practice of allowing guaranteed payments even for electricity that has not been used through base load power supply contracts.
This is the reason that Paleco has an 80-megawatt supply for a 50-megawatt demand but still suffers from brownouts. The cooperative is now holding a bidding for another 20 megawatts to raise its contracted supply to 100 megawatts, which would be paid whether used entirely or not.
“The old system” was preferable, said MSK, because it is “more transparent and truly competitive.”/TSB