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Konsyumer Negros wants 20 MW CENECO tender stopped in favor of better terms for consumers

Press Release
February 15, 2021

MANILA – The Negros chapter of nationwide consumers' movement Konsyumer on Monday called on to the Central Negros Electric Cooperative (CENECO) and relevant energy agencies to put a stop to an ongoing tender of the electric cooperative (EC), citing the use of Terms of Reference (TOR) unfavorable to consumers and lack of transparency in the bidding process as in need of proper amendments before bids should be allowed to push through.

The biggest EC of Negros Occidental is holding a competitive selection process (CSP) for a power requirement of 20 MW, assumed to be in time for the expiration of its 64 MW Power Supply Agreement (PSA) with a coal power plant in Naga, Cebu, owned by KEPCO-SPC.

“We are finally getting off, though only partially, paying for costly and dirty electricity from coal. But before we can even celebrate this, we are concerned that CENECO is already preparing to expose us once more to electricity that is not least-cost, and we are not even given the chance to properly be informed on and participate in the process," said Griderick Alila, Coordinator of Konsyumer Negros.

Earlier this month, Konsyumer Negros formally filed a letter addressed to CENECO protesting the conduct of the tender and calling for its suspension. The group noted that the TOR and documents guiding the selection process have not even been posted publicly as mandated by DOE even as the target electricity delivery date of February 26 looms close.

“Consumers have the right to know and should have a say on what kind of electricity we are paying for. This is especially true in this time of crisis when costs of basic needs continue to rise while means of living for many are still down. So far, however, our concerns have only been met by silence," he said.

The group’s call was supported by the Center for Energy, Ecology, and Development (CEED), a Quezon City based think-tank that has been working together with Konsyumer and a broad alliance of Negrosanons under the banner of the REpower Negros Movement in advocating for the island's power sector transformation. CEED in December released a policy brief examining faults and lessons from the power procurement processes of Metro Manila distribution utility MERALCO, which are now also observed in the CENECO tender.

“The 20 MW tender fails to set in place straight energy pricing, guaranteed supply availability requirement, and better force majeure provisions, including dispute settlement mechanism – all of which will benefit its consumers. These could protect them from additional costs in unpredictable times like the pandemic. The tender also creates unnecessary barriers for renewable energy firms that could provide cheaper electricity with little cost to the environment, many of whom can be found locally and are in fact struggling with oversupply, since the current inter-island grid set-up is incapable of absorbing all electricity they produce," said Avril De Torres, Research, Policy, and Law Program Head of CEED.

Konsyumer filed another set of letters today to follow-up on the call for a suspension of the tender, addressed to CENECO and offices of the Department of Energy (DOE), National Electrification Administration (NEA), the Third Party Bids and Awards Committee (TPBAC), and the Negros Electric Cooperatives Association (NECA).

“Our home island abounds in clean and affordable renewable energy sources, which we hope CENECO and all other electric cooperatives would tap before looking elsewhere and forcing consumers to pay for dirty, overpriced electricity. Konsyumer Negros will not back down until this and our many other concerns on the tender are addressed. CENECO and our energy regulators may expect to continue hearing from us," said Alila.