ZAMBOANGA CITY Electric Cooperative (Zamcelco), through its investor-managers, paid P150 million to Western Mindanao Power Corp. (WMPC) during their hearing at the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) on Wednesday, the power distribution utility said.

The compromise agreement is the second in the legal dispute with WMPC, the cooperative’s investor-managers Crowninvestment Holdings, Inc. and Desco, Inc. said in a statement.

Henry Virola, Zamcelco chief management officer, said of Crown-Desco’s P2.5-billion capital infusion into power utility, P370 million had gone to WMPC. So far, he said the group had paid P370 million out of the P447 million in payables that the company was demanding “on top of our overpayments.”

The cooperative had pointed out supposed overbillings worth P441 million made from 2015 to 2018. The amount covered pending payables the cooperative incurred to the power supplier, but WMPC cut its power supply in response.

In April, Zamcelco and its investor-managers filed a motion with the ERC for a claim for refund of its overpayments. The motion also sought the withdrawal from and the ERC’s dismissal of the application for approval of the co-op’s power supply agreement (PSA) with WMPC.

The group said the motion stated that the overpayments were made as WMPC overbilled the co-op for capacity recovery fees, and operations and management. But it added that this was done without basis as the PSA between was not yet in effect.

Mr. Virola said WMPC charged Zamcelco for a fixed capacity of 50 megawatts (MW), when the utility would not use more than 25 MW a month.

“Without an effective PSA, WMPC should have only charged the cooperative for actual nominated or utilized capacity,” he said.

He said his group was still waiting for the ERC’s decision on their motion for a claim for refund and for the dismissal of the application for Zamcelco-WMPC PSA’s approval.

Crown-Desco was awarded the investment-management contract for Zamcelco in September 2018. It started managing the cooperative in January this year. — Victor V. Saulon