POWER RATES HIKE. Felino Herbert Agdigos, general manager of Ilocos Norte Electric Cooperative, on Tuesday (May 17, 2022) discusses why power rates increased this month. He said the hike in generation charges was beyond their control and had to be passed on to consumers. (Photo by Leilanie Adriano)

LAOAG CITY  The electricity bill of customers of the Ilocos Norte Electric Cooperative (INEC) has increased in May due to a hike in the cost of electricity generation.

According to INEC General Manager Felino Herbert Agdigos, the total unbundled residential rate for May is pegged at PHP14.18 per kWh, compared to PHP12.31 in April.

Agdigos said in a press conference on Tuesday afternoon that they have no other choice but to pass on the PHP1.87 difference to consumers. He added that while the generation charge (GC) last month was at PHP8.45, it also increased to PHP10.19 this month.

The GC comprises 71.88 percent of the consumer’s electric bill. Over the weekend, many electric consumers took to social media to air their dismay at the sudden increase in their monthly electric bills.

But the INEC management was quick to respond that "the increase in electricity costs was due to the rise in generation charges of independent power producers" and they have no control over it.

Though Ilocos Norte is host to a number of renewable energy firms such as the wind farms in Burgos, Bangui, and Pagudpud, as well as the solar farm in Currimao town, the INEC said that as a distribution utility, they could not get their supply directly from them.

"Under the procurement law, there is no direct contract with them. Our supply requirements have to undergo bidding, ensure a continuous supply with the right amount and quality,” Agdigos said.

As of the moment, the INEC is buying its supply from Masinloc Power Partner Co. Ltd, Wholesale Electricity Spot Market, and its mini-hydropower plant in Pagudpud town.

"Like the surging prices of fuel, independent power producers are also affected hence, the increase of generation charges that are pass on to consumers,” said Noel Andres, information officer of INEC.

Andres added other charges such as transmission, distribution, and system loss are relatively unchanged this month compared to April. (PNA)