Consumer group concerned about Ceneco’s ‘financial liabilities’

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FOR A local consumer group leader, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) order for Central Negros Electric Cooperative (Ceneco) to repay nearly 238 million pesos in “over-recoveries” to consumers is a welcome development.

But Power Watch Negros general secretary Wennie Sancho said management should explain the formula and mechanisms involved in calculating the reimbursement.

“It is not enough that the board of directors (CA) and senior managers of the cooperative [to say] that we will be reimbursed, we deserve to know what are the bases of the reimbursement covering the period from 2004 to 2017,” he added.

Ceneco has previously assured that it will comply with the ERC’s order to reimburse its consumers for approximately 238 million pesos in excess recoveries covering the period from February 2004 to December 2017.

The co-op, however, will file a motion for reconsideration (MR) amid questions about the discrepancy between ERC’s calculation and that of the plus-minus recovery claim filed by Ceneco.

Its head of corporate planning, engineer Norman Pollentes, said earlier that it would start implementing the reimbursement during this month’s invoicing.

He said the electricity distribution utility (DU) will have to distribute about 11 million pesos per month over a two-year period, according to the order it recently received from the ERC.

“Ceneco is suffering because of this order,” Pollentes said, lamenting that “it will affect Ceneco’s financial viability as an electricity cooperative.”

Ceneco serves a total of 213,950 electricity consumers, the largest in the province, including those in the cities of Bacolod, Bago, Talisay and Silay, and the cities of Murcia and Salvador Benedicto.

Over-under-recovery recovery is part of regulatory compliance in which all power cooperatives are mandated for a precise full charge of 100% “pass-through” of the cost of generation and transmission.

Pollentes, however, clarified that due to the nature of the enacted wording, the fees passed on cannot be passed on accurately.

Pollentes said that because of this “inaccuracy” reconciliation is required every three years, so the over-under recovery compliance deposit is designed by the ERC for all-electric co-ops to to reconcile inaccuracies.

Ceneco complied with regulatory requirements. In fact, he has four over-under recovery claims from 2004 to 2020, he said.

The cooperative did not find any discrepancy in its 2018 to 2020 claim of 149 million pesos unlike those from 2004 to 2017, which were the subject of the ERC’s reimbursement order.

“For us, there is a question about the model used by the ERC to evaluate our application. We used the same model but why is there still a discrepancy? [of about P238 million]”, said Pollentes, adding that “there is something to clarify here”.

Thus, Ceneco is now requesting an exit conference with the ERC to be clarified on the calculation of the latter, in particular the difference in their production.

For Power Watch Negros, the amount had already been collected from consumers and should have been blocked for future payment in anticipation of over-collection.

“But co-op boards and senior management were concerned about their perks and big bonuses that consumer welfare was taken for granted,” she said, adding that “whatever either, Ceneco is now facing an insurmountable financial burden”.

Meanwhile, Sancho also said that the Public Service Employees Union had won a labor case with an economic package of around 200 million pesos to be paid by Ceneco at the expense of consumers.

Last week, Ceneco confirmed that the Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment (Dole) had already ordered them to immediately implement the economic provisions of the CBA following the strike notice previously filed by members of his union. basic employees. , said an official.

Responsible for regulation and compliance of Ceneco Atty. Leonie Vee Garanzo-Apuhin, who is also the co-op’s legal adviser, said the decision also stated that Ceneco was not liable for unfair labor practices.

Garanzo-Apuhin said he had already received the order from Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III last May 30 and that he has a remedy which consists of filing a request for reconsideration (MR) within 10 days of receiving the the notice of order. .

In addition to CBA’s economic supply, Sancho said, Kepco-Salcon Power Corp. (KSPC) seeks payment of its “differential billing” amounting to 280 million pesos in December 2021, but has now ballooned to nearly 500 million pesos.

“KSPC will collect this from Ceneco which will bleed consumers dry,” he said, adding that “we are paying the system loss subsidy of 15 million pesos.”

The consumer group also claimed that Ceneco’s financial liabilities now amount to nearly 1 billion pesos.

“Can Ceneco survive? Even a beast of burden would collapse if too heavy a weight was piled on its shoulder. What would happen to us if the financial base of the cooperative collapsed? he asked.

For Power Watch, this is alarming.

Sancho said the National Electrification Administration (NEA) should conduct a financial, technical and performance audit on Ceneco to ensure that its power supply acquisitions are optimized and actually used and not over-contracted.

“Allegations of mismanagement and corruption will only pave the way for the privatization of Ceneco,” he added.

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