Soreco II general manager Percibal G. Alvarez said this during an interview with BusinessMirror on May 7 at the cooperative’s main office in Barangay Buhatan.
“Repeal Epira Law, or amend it,” he said, referring to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001.
Alvarez said the law caused the high rates of electricity in the country after the power industry was restructured, effectively handing it over to private firms in 2001.
According to Alvarez, it created the power market in Manila dominated by private companies from whom electric cooperatives in the regions would source electricity.
The business of the state-owned and ran National Power Corp. (Napocor) like generation, supply, distribution and transmission of power was finally given up to private sector, he said.
Alvarez explained why thousands of households, not only in Sorsogon but in the entire country, are paying for costly electricity today.
“Power rates are high due to the additional charges imposed by these private companies,” he said. “This forces the electric cooperatives in the provinces to raise their rates in order to sustain operation. In effect, the member-consumers shoulder all the responsibilities.”
Consumers are made to pay for several charges to compensate for the losses incurred by Napocor, he said.
Napocor incurred debt in billions of dollar to subsidize and operate at loss.
According to Alvarez, four months ago the state-run Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) asked the national government that it would collect additional 59 centavos per kilowatt hour from power consumers in the entire country for 10 years.
The PSALM is a corporation which existence emerged by virtue of the Epira Law to manage the sell and disposition of the properties of the Napocor, he said.
“They made us collectors. But a single peso has never been shared to the cooperative,” he said.
In Sorsogon alone the additional centavos that would be collected from member-consumers would mean billions of pesos in just a matter of year, Alvarez said.
“It is only from Soreco. How about Aleco in Albay, Casureco in Camarines Sur and the rest of the electric cooperatives in the country. It’s a lot of money from the member-consumers,” Alvarez said.
The Soreco II general manager said most electricity distributors in the provinces are still cooperatives. He said the role of electric cooperatives is missionary in nature.
“We are not allowed to profit, but we can incur losses,” he said.
“I’m not against the government,” he said. “But sometimes its policy is not pro-people.”
He said geothermal, hydro and wind energy generate expensive electricity. How can cooperatives purchase the electricity produced from said energy sources, he added.
Energy sourced from underground steam, water and wind are classified as renewable energy in contrast to gas, coal and other conventional sources to generate electricity.