Member-consumers of Zamsureco II and other electric cooperatives under the National Electrification Administration (NEA) have to pay higher electricity cost starting August with the imposition of the “National Power Corporation Stranded Contract Cost” under the Universal Charges component of the electric bill.
Previously, the Universal Charges had three such as Missionary, Environmental Charge, and NPC Stranded Debts. Starting August, however, the NPC Stranded Contract Cost is added.
According to the NEA Primer, the NPC Stranded Debts refer to “any financial obligations of NPC, which have not been liquidated by the proceeds from the sales and privatization of NPC assets.”
The NPC Stranded Contract Cost, on the other hand, refers to “the excess of the contracted cost of electricity under eligible contracts over the actual selling price of the contracted energy output of such contracts in the market.”
These costs are passed on to the consumers.
This developed as the government-led Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) had discovered some P238.3 million in Universal Charges collected from electricity consumers by electric cooperatives but not remitted to the agency as the fund administrator.
Collected funds have to be remitted to PSALM, as the administrator, by the 15th of each succeeding month.
In a statement released Sunday, August 11 the Department of Finance (DoF) had identified 11 electric cooperatives that did not remit the Universal Charges it collected.
These electric cooperatives with the corresponding unremitted amount are Camarines Sur III Electric Cooperative, Inc., P66.281 million; Albay Electric Cooperative, Inc., P40.6 million; Abra Electric Cooperative, Inc., P36.886 million.
PSALM also called out the cooperatives that did not only failed to remit, but also refused to submit the required monthly collection reports: Maguindanao Electric Cooperative, Inc., P26.28 million based only on available reports; Ticao Electric Cooperative, P9.421 million; Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative, Inc., P8.685 million; and Siasi Electric Cooperative, P2.764 million.
The non-submission of the monthly collection report is a violation of the UC guidelines issued by the Energy Regulatory Commission.
Other co-ops asked to remit the collections include Basilan Electric Cooperative, Inc., P31.531 million; Cotabato Electric Cooperative, Inc.-PPALMA, P7.428 million; Masbate Electric Cooperative, Inc., P4.917 million; and Romblon Electric Cooperative, Inc., P3.456 million.
“Non-remittance of UC collections to PSALM is fraud perpetrated against the consumers who paid for the UC and against the government that is mandated to use the UC in accordance with EPIRA (Republic Act No. 9136 or Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001),” PSALM President and Chief Executive Officer Irene Joy B. Garcia said in the statement.
The universal charge is collected monthly by distribution utilities from power users to recover so-called stranded debts and stranded contract costs incurred by the NPC at the time when the country had built up its energy assets to meet growing demand.
The non-remittance of UC collections, the statement said, is technically estafa by misappropriation under the Revised Penal Code, punishable by imprisonment of up to 20 years. (Mindanao Sun)