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Power rate hike looms in Aklan

Boracay residents, workers and business operators form a human chain last month on White Beach to show support for cleanup efforts and appeal against the island’s closure. —CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

ILOILO CITY — Electricity rates in Aklan province and two municipalities of Antique province may increase due to a P99-million loss that the areas’ lone power supplier was expected to suffer as a result of the six-month closure of Boracay Island.

Aklan Electric Cooperative (Akelco), lone power distributor of Aklan’s 17 towns and the towns of Pandan and Libertad in Antique, would collect a P1.58-per-kilowatt-hour increase in rate if it cannot cushion the loss of at least P16.5 million a month in revenue from businesses, mostly tourism-related, that would stop operating during Boracay’s closure.

Engineer Alexis Regalado, Akelco general manager, said electric consumption in Boracay was expected to drop sharply.

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Bound by contracts

Akelco would suffer losses because while its revenue would take a hit, it would continue to pay the same amount to generating companies which have contracts with Akelco, Regalado said.

“We are appealing to our suppliers if we can renegotiate the terms of contract so that we will not be forced to increase our rates,” Regalado said.

He said Akelco, which has at least 137,000 customers, had asked the National Electrification Administration to subsidize the projected loss “because this is not our fault.”

The daily power consumption in Boracay ranges from 27 to 28 megawatts. This was expected to drop by 84 percent during the closure which would start on April 26.

Port earnings

The provincial government of Aklan is implementing austerity measures, including a freeze on hiring, in anticipation of revenue loss.

The province earns from the operation of ports in Caticlan in Malay town and Cagban in Boracay.

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Roger Esto, provincial planning and development officer, said health services would also suffer because government-run hospitals in the province were heavily subsidized from earnings from the ports.

Several groups of Aklan residents were now gearing up for protests against the closure.
A coalition planned to hold a 71-kilometer “caravan of indignation” on April 19.

Among the members of the coalition were the Diocese of Kalibo, led by Bishop Jose Corazon Tala-oc, business operators, transport organizations, nongovernment organizations and militant groups.

“We believe rehabilitation can be done without totally closing the island,” said Odon Bandiola, retired provincial board secretary and journalist, and one of the coalition organizers.

He said appeals of stakeholders and local governments affected by the closure “have been ignored and fallen on deaf ears.”

The coalition called on President Duterte, who had approved the closure, to rescind his order.

It said the national government must “come up with a scientific and comprehensive rehabilitation plan for Boracay.”

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