EXPENSIVE. The power rates being charged by electric cooperatives in Eastern Visayas in September. The high electricity rate in Eastern Visayas is a huge setback in attracting new investments in the region, an official of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) regional office here said on Friday (Oct. 21, 2022). (Photo courtesy of Onid Baqueros)

TACLOBAN CITY – The high electricity rate in Eastern Visayas is a huge setback in attracting new investments in the region, an official of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) regional office here said.

NEDA Regional Director Meylene Rosales said on Friday the high power cost has been hurting businesses and may discourage potential investors to start their businesses in the region.

“That would mean increasing our overhead expenses for business operations. A big chunk of profits of our small business will be spent to pay for electricity bills. How can you attract a business if the power rate is high?” Rosales said in an interview.

In the September 2022 billing, the Biliran Electric Cooperative (Bileco) charged the highest power rate among the 11 electric cooperatives in the Eastern Visayas region at PHP20.9563 per kilowatt hour (kWh).

The rate is way up than the PHP9.9365 per kWh by the Manila Electric Company (Meralco).

Earlier, Bileco said the power rate went up by PHP1.6268 per kWh for residential power consumers largely due to the rising cost of coal fuel used by its power source, GN Power Dinginin Ltd. Co. based in Mariveles, Bataan.

All electric cooperatives in the region also charged higher in the September bills compared to Meralco.

These are the Leyte IV Electric Cooperative (Leyeco) at PHP20.8455 per kWh, Samar II Electric Cooperative (Samelco) at PHP19.6569 per kWh, Southern Leyte Electric Cooperative at PHP19.5536 per kWh, Don Orestes Romualdez Electric Cooperative at PHP19.2700 per kWh, Samelco I at PHP18.2287 per kWh, Northern Samar Electric Cooperative at PHP18.1588 per kWh, Eastern Samar Electric Cooperative at PHP17.4085 per kWh, Leyeco III at PHP17.1556 per kWh, Leyeco V at PHP17.0340 per kWh, and Leyeco II at PHP12.4426 per kWh.

Evangeline Dinglasa, 53, from Burauen, Leyte who has been in the business of selling fried hotdogs for three years, said her electricity bill last month increased to PHP2,800 from P2,000 in August.

She has been using a large freezer and a refrigerator to store their product.

“Our monthly net sales is PHP15,000 and some 18 percent goes to electricity bill. That’s a big expense for a small business,” Dinglasa said in a text message.

Earlier, the Energy Development Corp. (EDC) said the high power rate in Leyte is caused by their failure to participate in the competitive selection process (CSP) of local electric cooperatives in the region.

EDC is the operator of the Leyte Geothermal Power Field in the northwestern part of Leyte province.

The EDC was disqualified to participate in the CSP in 2015 in which the Federation of Rural Electric Cooperatives in Eastern Visayas required a power generator to possess a “new power plant or a power plant expansion to supply its power requirements.”

The EDC’s power plants have already been existing for years.

The EDC is First Gen’s 100 percent renewable energy subsidiary and has more than 1,480 MW total installed capacity accounting for 20 percent of the country’s total installed renewable capacity.

Unified Leyte and Green Core Geothermal, Inc. are EDC’s power supply subsidiaries. (PNA)