[Opinion] Electricity cost

As early as September month each year, a neighbor in a residential subdivision meticulously arranges a colorful lights decoration to usher in the Yuletide season. The arrangement, while it is entertaining to passers by, it puts in awe the entire neighborhood of how much the lavish set up costs to electricity after the season is over.

This year the neighborhood was disappointed to learn that there was no lights decoration to welcome Christmas. The reason behind the suspension of the much awaited lights arrangement is the exorbitant cost of electricity in the city which confirms the suspicion of the entire neighborhood who likewise suffers the same fate.

Among Iloilo City’s infamous pride is the cost of electricity which is now considered as the most expensive electricity in the entire country; in the entireAsia; and in the whole world.

In one of the hearings conducted by the Energy Regulatory Commission, a much irritated business person approached the microphone and directed his concern to the Commissioner saying, “we want to find sense why electricity is expensive in Iloilo City. I am practically turning over millions of pesos to the electricity distribution company as a result of expensive electricity.”

He further added that while both the distributor (Panay Electric Company) and generator (Panay Power Corporation) of electricity reasoned out that rising cost of fuel is a major factor behind the expensive cost of electricity all these years, he shared that its own findings and monitoring reveals that the same expensive generation rates prevailed even during periods wherein cost of diesel and bunker fuel was at its lowest.

This year, a household consumer with a 195-kWh consumption in key cities in the country pays relatively lower electricity if compared to Iloilo City.

In Manila under Meralco, it costs P1,950.00 or P10.00/kWh; Leyte – P1,392.30 or P7.14/kWh; Cebu City, P1,753.05 or P8.99/kWh; Bacolod City P1,255.00 or P6.43/kWh; in Davao City P1,339.65 or P6.87/kWh; and in General Santos P1,066.65 or P5.47/kWh.

InIloiloCity? It costs P2,525.95 or a per kilowatt-hour rate of P12.95 with generation charge  eating up the biggest chunk of all the charges at the rate of P8.35 per kilowatt-hour.

A closer look on electricity cost in other parts of the world also illustrates thatIloiloCityhas the worst electricity rate. For instance,United Statesonly charges P3.82/kWh,United KingdomP4.72/kWh,RussiaP0.22/kWh, Japan Php9.63. These countries are highly industrialized and considered advanced nations in terms of economy; however, its electricity charges is way below if compared toIloiloCity. This is one of the reasons why economic development in the city has stagnated for electricity expense automatically covers a major item in overhead expenses in the operations of a business or a household.

Bringing the cost of electricity down to levels reflective of actual or real cost will significantly stir economic activity in the city. Yet our local government executive has exercised poor utilities governance all these years. It has cuddled the abuses of both PECO and PPC. Our good Mayor is only satisfied to get a minimal reduction in terms of electricity rates, a token effort to provide flesh to his promise of addressing electricity rates concerns way back campaign period.

Yet substantially, it is not bent on instituting a comprehensive action in order to address the root problems why electricity is exclusively exorbitant in the city. (Misreadings, The News Today, 23 December 2010)

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