One year with PSALM

By Herbert Vego

ALTHOUGH the one-year contract of MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power) with the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) for cheaper geothermal energy has expired, the former as a distribution utility would still source around 20 percent of its energy supply from geothermal giant Entergy Development Corporation.

We residents of Iloilo are thankful to both MORE Power and PSALM—as distribution utility and power generator, respectively — for having enjoyed the cheapest electricity in the Philippines for one straight year.

Henceforth, MORE Power would mostly deal with the winners of the Competitive Selection Process, the coal-based generating plants of Sem-Calaca Power Corp and KEPCO Power Corp, to supply its 45MW base load requirements and with the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), the centralized venue for buyers and sellers to trade electricity as a commodity where prices are determined based on actual use (demand) and availability (supply).

This would mean that the generation cost of MORE Power, like the other private distribution utilities and electric cooperatives, would be dependent on the dictate of coal price in the world market.

The castle index of coal price now shows an average of 400 US dollars per metric ton. It was only 90 USD per metric ton last year.

The generation cost is a pass-through charge in our power bills and it consists of 70% of what we are paying to our distribution utility (DU). No single centavo goes to DU on this.

Therefore, the remaining 30 percent is mostly shared by the DUs and the transmission grid, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).

It is unfortunate that because we are highly dependent on coal for generating electricity, their rise in prices would trigger a domino effect on us consumers.

This clarification should disabuse the minds of power consumers who mistakenly blame the distribution utility (DU), like MORE Power, over fluctuation in the amount of consumer billings. That the DU bills the power consumers does not mean it gets the entire amount.

On the other hand, this could result in the massive availability of cheaper non-renewable power sources, notably solar power which is becoming more accessible with the invention of long-life storage batteries.

Again, thanks to MORE Power for giving us the cheapest rates in the past 12 months amidst the pandemic. It helps a lot to lessen our financial burdens during the height of this health crisis.

Knowing the customer-centric mindset of MORE Power and their CEO Roel Castro, we are confident that this is just a temporary setback because they will not stop looking for strategies on how to mitigate the rate impacts.

MORE Power has vowed to keep us consumers well-informed on new developments through its weekly radio program “MORE Power at Your Service,” which is carried by three radio stations, namely: Aksyon Radyo every Friday, 1:30-2:00 p.m.; Bombo Radyo every Saturday, 9-9:30 a.m.; and DYRI-RMN every Saturday, 2:30-3:00 p.m.



The proverbial advice to eat an apple a day is believed to have appeared in print first in 1866. The vague reason stated then was that apple eaters paid fewer visits to doctors than the non-apple eaters.

But what got me interested about apple was whether it could reverse my diminishing ability to recall words, including names of familiar friends and colleagues.

There was a time when I could not remember where I had parked my car. Was I treading the path to dementia, euphemistically called “senior moments”?

I have known of people who died of Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) or progressive memory loss —

Therefore I consulted my doctor on what drug to take to prevent the disease. I had heard about such anti-AD drugs as Alzhemed and Flurizan.

It was reassuring to hear from her that I did not have to take drugs because I was not yet an AD patient. She said that by writing this column thrice a week, I was on the right track of slowing down memory loss.

“Would an apple a day be good for me?”

“Yes,” she paraphrased the popular quotation, “an apple a day prevents memory loss.”

I thought she was joking until a few days later when she handed me a printed study on the memory-enhancing effects of apples done by a team of medical professors at the University of Massachusetts. The study was originally published in the American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias.

The team led by Dr. Thomas Shea wrapped up their study with the conclusion that apples may really have huge health benefits, especially for folks fighting the effects of AD.

Dr. Shea, incidentally, is director of the university’s Center for Cellular Neurobiology and Neurodegeneration. A leading pioneer on the subject, he has studied the brain-boosting effects of apples on brain health for over a decade.

Dr. Shea’s research team studied 21 patients between the ages of 72 and 93 who had moderate-to-severe AD. He gave them two four-ounce glasses of apple juice each day for a month. After just 30 days, his team noted major changes in mood and behavior. Changes included improvement in anxiety, depression and delusion.

“In addition to changes in memory, there’s a change in mood that often accompanies AD,” wrote Dr. Shea. “We found that people receiving apple juice displayed fewer of the symptoms. It kept their minds functioning at their best. ”

Dr. Shea’s study also included testing mice in a series of maze trials. He gave them the equivalent of two glasses of apple juice each day for 30 days. He then put them through a series of traditional tests involving repetitive entries/exits through a maze together with “un-appled” mice. The mice that drank apple juice took less time to memorize the right exit points.

The results backed up his theory. The mice produced less “beta amyloid” – the protein fragment which forms “senile plaques” – which are often found in the brains of people with AD.

His team also proved beyond doubt that natural apple juice – not the synthetic canned ones — increases the production of a brain transmitter called acetylcholine. Acetylcholine helps slow the mental decline of people with AD.

A truly healthy apple juice or smoothie is a blend of the entire fruit parts, including its skin, core and crushed seeds that have the highest concentration of natural antioxidants.

Many other studies say that an effective brain-boosting plan should include antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies and fish rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.