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Electric co-ops back EPIRA tweaks to allow gov’t power generation

THE Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association, Inc. (Philreca) has declared its support for amending the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001, citing the need to once more allow government entities, including local government units (LGUs), to generate power. 

In a statement on Tuesday, Philreca said: “Continuing a deregulated generation sector will only result in imbalance in the power industry, the opportunities of each to bring down the electricity cost being impeded.”

The EPIRA law sought to restructure the power industry via deregulation and privatizing most state-owned power generation and transmission assets.

According to Philreca, the National Government and LGUs should be allowed to generate power, not only the private sector.  

“True competition may be achieved only with the presence in the market of a price neutralizing factor, the government,” it said.

Separately, Philreca also said that it supports the decision of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to investigate the power supply agreements of private utilities and electric cooperatives after numerous complaints from consumers.

Last week, the ERC said it will review the “accuracy” of the generation rates being passed on by DUs to consumers.

The generation charge accounts for about 61% of the consumer power bill, on average.

Philreca said power rates have risen following the global surge in fuel prices in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war, the peso’s depreciation, and the difficulty of sourcing coal.  

Generation companies are authorized to pass these charges on to consumers by EPIRA. — Ashley Erika O. Jose