As early as September month each year, a house owner in a residential subdivision meticulously arranges colorful lights decoration to usher in the Yuletide season. The arrangement, while entertaining to passers by, puts in awe the entire neighborhood of how much the lavish set-up costs in terms of electricity after the season is over.
This year the neighborhood was disappointed to learn that there were no lights decoration to welcome Christmas. The reason: the exorbitant cost of electricity in the city, which the entire neighborhood also suffers.
Among Iloilo City’s infamous pride is the cost of its electricity considered one of the most expensive in the entire country, in the entire Asia, and in the whole world.
In one of the hearings conducted by the Energy Regulatory Commission, a much irritated businessperson approached the microphone and directed his concern to the Commissioner saying, “we want to find sense why electricity is expensive in Iloilo City. I am practically turning over millions of pesos to the electricity distribution company as a result of expensive electricity.”
He added that while both the distributor (Panay Electric Company) and generator (Panay Power Corp.) reasoned out that rising cost of fuel is a major factor behind the expensive cost of electricity all these years, he shared that its own findings and monitoring reveals that the same expensive generation rates prevailed even during periods wherein cost of diesel and bunker fuel was at its lowest.
This year, a household consumer living in key cities of the country with a 195-kWh consumption pays relatively lower electricity cost compared to those in Iloilo City.
In Manila under Meralco, it costs P1,950 or P10/kWh; Leyte, P1,392.30 or P7.14/kWh; Cebu City, P1,753.05 or P8.99/kWh; Bacolod City P1,255.00 or P6.43/kWh; Davao City, P1,339.65 or P6.87/kWh; and in General Santos, P1,066.65 or P5.47/kWh.
In Iloilo City? It costs P2,525.95 or a per kilowatt-hour rate of P12.95 with generation charge eating up the biggest chunk of all the charges at the rate of P8.35 per kilowatt-hour.
A closer look on electricity cost in other parts of the world also illustrates that Iloilo City has the worst electricity rate. For instance, United States only charges P3.82/kWh, United Kingdom P4.72/kWh, Russia P0.22/kWh, Japan P9.63. These countries are highly industrialized and considered advanced nations in terms of economy; however, its electricity charges are way below if compared to Iloilo City. This is one of the reasons why economic development in the city has stagnated for electricity expense automatically covers a major item in overhead expenses in the operations of a business or a household.
Bringing the cost of electricity down to levels reflective of actual or real cost will significantly stir economic activity in the city. Yet our local government has exercised poor utilities governance all these years. It has coddled the abuses of both PECO and PPC. Our good Mayor is only satisfied to get a minimal reduction in terms of electricity rates, a token effort to provide flesh to his promise of addressing electricity rates concerns way back campaign period.
Yet substantially, it is not bent on instituting a comprehensive action in order to address the root problems why electricity is exclusively exorbitant in the city. *