ECs thumb down entry of private firms in their franchise areas

By Myrna M. Velasco – April 17, 2018, 10:00 PM
from Manila Bulletin

The country’s electric cooperatives (ECs) are refusing the entry of deep-pocketed third party investors in their respective franchise areas, including those that had been rendered ‘unviable’ for energization.

Fundamentally, that was giving a “thumbs down” to the proposal of the Department of Energy (DOE) on allowing private sector firms to provide electricity services at areas that they have not yet electrified in their service domains.

The energy department has been earlier instructed by President Rodrigo Duterte to take firm action of finally energizing the “unserved’ and ‘under-served’ areas that are generally in rural and far-flung areas.

And if the distribution utilities would not be able to do it soon, then private sector companies shall be allowed to invest in these areas.

“The EC leaders feared that a state policy on the entry of deep-pocketed private firms in rural electrification lays the groundwork for their cooperatives to give up the ghost, so to speak, affecting the welfare of their stockholders,” Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association Inc. (PHILRECA) president Presley de Jesus stressed.

The electric cooperatives noted this development shall spell their death, because this means giving up part of service areas duly warranted in their respective franchise.

PHILRECA said they have fastidiously supported government initiatives in providing electricity, even to marginalized areas, and they consider such as “testament to our resilience and steadfast dedication to its goal.”

The group added “the policy on private sector participation in rural electrification program is based on a wrong predicate,” primarily on claims that “there are non-performing ECs who are considered barriers to total electrification.”