CITY OF SAN FERNANDO — It’s a variety of “endo” that unburdens all, including consumers of the Pampanga Electric Cooperative 2.
It refers to the end of that mysterious item called Universal Charge (UC) in electric billings which, in ordinary Pelco 2 households could amount to about P50 monthly.
This, after Pres. Duterte signed this week the Murang Kuryente Act which was principally sponsored by Sen. Ralph Recto and backed by Sen. Win Gatchalian.
“The law is like a light switch that turns off the collection from consumers of the Universal Charge (UC) on stranded debts and stranded contract costs of privatized power assets, including those of contracts forged during the brownout years of the 1990s,” Recto said in a statement yesterday.
Recto stressed that “It is essentially a stop payment order that will unburden consumers from paying for the follies of the past.”
Recently, the Energy Regulatory Commission asked Pelco 2 to shed light on recent complaints of consumers about the “meteoric and incredible” hike in their bills for last June. Now its consumers have expressed confidence their bills would go down as a result of the Murang Kuryente Act.
Recto said the new law is “also an injunction against the planned increase in electricity charges that would have kicked in once the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) started collecting a new round of due obligations via the UC.
“Per one computation, a household consuming 200 watts a month would be paying P2,064 pesos a year in universal charges if this law had not been enacted,” he noted.
Recto recalled the history why consumers ended up paying for debts past.
When the government sold off assets from the previous National Power Corp. state monopoly, it was left with outstanding liabilities which were not included in the sale.
The said obligations were assumed by PSALM, which then passed these on to consumers through the UC. This explains why our electricity bill contains that seemingly innocuous item called the UC. It is where these stranded costs are lumped together with other unitemized payables, Recto said.
He explained that “this orphaned debt— mga naiwang utang— assumed by PSALM will hit P566.2 billion by 2026, the year PSALM’s corporate life will end.”
PSALM’s debts can be settled the old way: by passing it on to consumers, which will have to pay an additional 86 centavos per kilowatt-hour once the pending petitions for the Stranded Debts and Stranded Contract Costs are approved.
The law signed by Pres. Duterte provides a painless way: By using the Malampaya fund collections to wipe the slate clean.
“Ang resulta ay endo na ang Universal Charge para doon sa mga iniwang utang o stranded costs. Noong January 2019, mayroong unspent balance ang Malampaya Fund na P231.9 billion. Ang matitirang pondo mula sa “Katas ng Malampaya” ay gagamitin ng DOE para sa energy resource development and exploration programs,” Recto also explained.