Tuesday, September 28, 2004

NR0927: Beltran agrees with ERC's Albano

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin B. Beltran
News Release September 27, 2004
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, chief of staff
Email: paggawa@edsamail.com.ph, anakpawis2003@yahoo.com
Celphone number 09213907362
Visit geocities.com/ap_news

Rep. Beltran agrees with ERC' Albano that it's EPIRA that's at the core of
problems in the ERC and electric industry

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today said that he has nothing personal
against former Isabela Congressman Rodolfo Albano when he (Beltran) said that
investigations into the Energy Regulatory Board (ERC), its functions and its
officials should be made. Beltran has called on Congress to immediately conduct
investigations into the running of the said agency and assess its
performance, given the relentless series of increases in electricity rates and
the anomalies in the National Power Corporation (Napocor) which also involve
the ERC. Beltran said that the since the Energy Regulatory Board (ERB) was
reorganized into ERC by virtue of of the EPIRA Law in 2001, ERC's performance
has been going dowhill.

Albano was quoted in a newspaper saying that he is entitled to his huge salary
of P105,000 monthly because the EPIRA says so. Albano
also said that "As usual, Beltran is ignorant of what's happening."

Beltran said that contrary to Albano's allegation, he (Beltran) is very much
aware of what's happening. "It's precisely this awareness that pushes me to
call for investigations into the ERC, including the high salaries and perks
being enjoyed by its high officials. Through the years, the ERC has become a
reliable provider of stamps of approval for Meralco and the National Power
Corporation when they petition for rate adjustments. That's one issue that
has to be looked into. The matter of high salaries of government executives -
often undeserved and scandalous given the economic crisis and the supposed call
of Malacanang for austerity measures - is another," he said.

Beltran expressed agreement with Albano that if there is anyone to blame, it
should be the Macapagal-Arroyo administration and its first pet law,the
Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA). He said that he has already filed
HB 2531, or an Act Repealing RA 9136, the EPIRA of 2001. Beltran voted against
the passage of the EPIRA during his first term as congressman under Bayan
Muna party-list.

"Apart from the fact that the EPIRA has legalized the relentess increases in
electricity rates and facilitated the full full and disastrous privatization
of the electric industrym, I believe there is basis to question the law
(EPIRA) and what it says about the salaries and perks of the ERC executives.
How do they justify the massive increase in the salaries when the ERB turned
into the ERC? What, is the rule "Change "B" to "C" and add a P50,000 to the
salaries of the exec?"

Position ERB ERC
Chairman 30,000 107,000
Commissioners 27,000 90,000
Executive Director 25,000 75,000
Director 23,000 61,000
Chief 21,000 51,000
Supervisor 19,000 41,000
Officer III 16,000 31,000

Beltran also determined specific areas wherein the ERC should investigated,
among them the various functions and duties it has either failed to perform or
twisted in their implementation. Primary among them the verification and
Confirmation of Purchased Power Adjustment (PPA).He pointed out that all
Distribution Utilities (DUs) composed of 19 Private Utilities (PUs) and 119
Electric Cooperatives (ECs)in the country are required to submit to then ERB
their monthly computation of PPA together with sample customer bills for
verification and confirmation. ERB/ERC then issues Orders confirming if these
DUs are collecting the right PPA charges from consumers.

"But let's make an accounting now. How many Orders has ERC issued? The ERC
should be made to present data of this from 1996 to present. Any overcharging
by these DUs by a mere centavo multiplied by the kilowatt hour sold would amount
to millions especially since it it has been years since PPA charges were
accounted for," he said.

Beltran also said that the ERC should also present data regarding the Napocor's
Fuel Purchased Cost Adjustment (FPCA).He said that Napocor was also required by
ERB then to submit receipts of their fuel purchased (diesel, bunker fuel oil)
used to run the generation plants that used these fuels for verification and
confirmation. "Is the ERC still confirming these fuel purchases which forms
part of the Power Purchased Cost Adjustment (PPCA) ? Let them show the
confirmation data. Orders issued by ERC are public documents and should be
subjected to congressional scrutiny."

"If what Sec. Vincent Perez has said at the recent Senate hearing is correct,
that ERC has already granted five (5) rate increases to NAPOCOR, how did these
happen? The procedure that ERB followed then for granting or denying rate hike
petitions was to grant provisional authority to increase rates after proper
evaluation was made and subject to final evaluation after an audit was made as
to the impact of the rate increase. If the provisionally granted rate increase
was too much, then consumers should be given refunds. This was what happened in
the case of MERALCO in a 1994 rate increase for which the Commission on Audit
found to be too much during its audit. The ERB then issued the final authority
reducing the rate granted thereby resulting in a refund last year after the
Supreme Court decided with finality. So, how could NAPOCOR get successive rate
hikes if the previous ones has not yet been audited and finally evaluated? It
would take at least a year's data after a rate increase is granted to evaluate
it's financial impact on the petitioner and ERC began granting rate hikes only
in 2002," he said.#


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