ORMOC CITY – Leyte Fourth District Representative Richard I. Gomez is seeking a congressional inquiry to shed light into the reasons for the continued high cost of electricity in his district and the whole Eastern Visayas region.

Gomez made his plan known through a message sent to the chair of the Ormoc City council’s committee on environment, natural resources and energy conservation during the “question hour” on Tuesday, August 2, 2022.

“I asked the council (Ormoc’s 16th Sangguniang Panlungsod) to give me a copy of the inquiry and if there are questions left unanswered, I will call an inquiry at the House that may help us correct some measures needed to lower the cost of electricity in our district,” Gomez said in a statement.

City councilor Lalaine Marcos said Gomez will raise the issue on high power rates in congress and will also invite officials from the Leyte V Electric Cooperative (LEYECO V) and the National Electrification Administration (NEA) to a congressional inquiry to shed light on the lingering problem of high power rates.

The LEYECO V service area covers Ormoc City and the towns of Albuera, Kananga, Matag-ob, Merida, Isabel and Palompon, which are all under Leyte’s Fourth Congressional District, and five other municipalities. Ormoc City and Kananga town host the geothermal field of Energy Development Corporation (EDC), which was formerly owned by the state’s Philippine National Oil Corporation.

In July, electricity rate in LEYECO V was at Php 14.9255 per kilowatt hour, just slightly lower than Php 13.0364 imposed in LEYECO II, which is the lowest rate in Eastern Visayas. In other parts of the region, electricity in Southern Leyte costs Php 19.0072, Biliran at Php 18.7778 and LEYECO IV at Php 18.9494 per kilowatt hour.

During the question hour, Erwin Magallanes, head of EDC’s Corporate Relations Department in Leyte, said EDC was disqualified to participate during the Competitive Selection Process (CSP) in 2015 when the electric cooperatives in the region bid out 150-megawatt (MW) aggregated long-term power requirements until 2038. 

Magallanes said the Federation of Rural Electric Cooperatives of Region 8 (FRECOR-8) required among others that the bidder should have a new power plant or a power plant expansion. He added that at present only LEYECO II and LEYECO III have Power Supply Agreements (PSA) with EDC, thus, they are the only ones receiving power from EDC’s Leyte geothermal plants through Green Core Geothermal, Incorporated.

Accordingly, electric cooperatives in Eastern Visayas source most of its electricity from the 600-megawatt Mariveles Coal-Fired Power Plant in Bataan after GN Power Ltd. won the 2015 CSP bidding.

Maria Rosa Cormanes, head of LEYECO V’s finance services department, said the electric cooperative derives most of its electricity from coal, which prices in the world market has tremendously increased in recent months.  Cormanes said the cooperative is now paying Php 280 million per month for the electric generation, which is almost thrice compared to Php 97 million per month that it used to pay earlier this year. By Elmer Recuerdo (EV Mail August 1-7, 2022 issue)