Senator renews call to refund power bill cost-of-capital charge after transmission charge adjustment

BW FILE PHOTO

SENATOR Ana Theresia N. Hontiveros-Baraquel has reiterated her call for the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to refund a cost-of-capital charge on electricity after the agency announced adjustments in computing transmission charges. 

“Power consumers have been charged for several years with more than the amount they should pay,” she said in Filipino in a statement on Monday. “Not only should we discount the incoming bills, we should also return amounts paid in years prior to the reset.” 

Earlier this month, the agency said transmission charges are likely to fall after revamping the process for computing the fees collected by the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP). 

ERC Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer Monalisa C. Dimalanta said the impact of the reset will be apparent by January.

The senator welcomed the ERC’s move on resetting transmission wheeling rates, which are the direct charge for the use of the grid network that delivers electricity.

However, she pointed out that the agency has said during previous budget hearings that the implementation for said resetting will be in the form of a discount. 

“What of the excess amounts paid by consumers over the past several years, including the past regulatory periods, which were not immediately corrected for this excessive weighted average cost of capital (WACC)?” she said. 

“The problem here is that consumers are said to have been given a discount when in fact, it came from the overcharged rates of the NGCP because the old ERC’s failures remain clear,” she said. “The people should watch over this, make sure it starts right because future decisions made can be anticipated from this.” 

The ERC chair said they can “still study the refund mode” as suggested by the senator.  

“WACC is just one component of the rate reset; this will be considered together with the asset base, opex and other building blocks that are needed to set the maximum allowable return of NGCP which will then be the basis for the setting of the allowable rates,” she told BusinessWorld in a Viber message on Monday. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan