By Alena Mae S. Flores – January 16, 2019 at 08:30 pm
The Department of Energy is looking at various options, including the government takeover of Panay Electric Co., to ensure uninterrupted power service in Iloilo City as the franchise of the existing distributor is set to expire on Jan. 19.
“One contingency measure is government takeover in case there will be problem. The DOE and ERC (Energy Regulatory Commission) are discussing other options which we can’t make public yet. We want to assure the public that we will not allow service disruption,” Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, head of the Senate committee on energy, said his committee would coordinate with the DoE as the franchise of Panay Electric Co. would expire on Jan. 19. The House and the Senate already approved the franchise of More Electric Power Corp. of businessman Enrique Razon Jr.
“We will write DoE to request for contingency measures just in case. The DoE has articulated that they have the power to take over for the meantime because Peco technically can’t operate anymore. But it was not spelled out how. We are talking about 60,000 connections, so how will DoE do it?” Gatchalian said.
Cusi earlier said the government might take over the power distribution in Iloilo City if the Peco-More issue was not resolved.
Mario Marasigan, director of the DoE Power Bureau, said the Senate version of the More franchise set a two-year transition period “that will ensure continuous distribution services within Iloilo City.”
More cited Peco’s alleged inefficiencies which prompted it to apply for a franchise to distribute power in Iloilo City.
The company said Iloilo City residents had suffered from Peco’s “poor services, overcharging of power bills with some reaching more than 1,000 percent, accumulated billings due to erroneous meter readings, technical failures, poor customer service, high electricity rates, constant power interruptions, and unexplained charges” for decades.
Marasigan said that during the transition period, Peco would continue to serve Iloilo City.
“During the transition, there will be negotiation as far as the use of facilities…It would be hard without the transition, it’s going to be an abrupt change,” he said.