Govt urged to find investors for Paleco

By Jordeene B. Lagare – February 9, 2019
from The Manila Times

INSTEAD of challenging its franchise, Palawan Electric Co. (Paleco) is urging the government to look for potential investors for the electric cooperative (EC).

“Rather than challenging its power-distribution franchise in both houses of Congress, Paleco urges our political leaders to look instead for companies that are willing to do business with them, subject to the existing qualified third-party (QTP) rules of the Department of Energy (DoE),” the National Electrification Administration (NEA) quoted the EC as saying in a Facebook post.

According to Paleco, it is open to opportunities as long as it undergoes the right process.

“Open naman tayo sa lahat ng opportunity… Ang tanong lang naman natin dito ay dumaan ba ito sa tamang proseso? Ang gusto natin ay electric power, ayaw natin ng political power. Baka dinadaan lang ito sa political power. ‘Yon ang iniiwasan natin (We are open to every opportunity… The only question here is did these franchise applications go through the right processes? We all want electrical power, but it seems they are merely exercising political power. That is what we want to avoid,” Paleco Board Chairman Jeffrey Tan-Endriga said.

Section 59 of Republic Act 9136, or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001, allows qualified private entities to engage in power generation and distribution without overstepping the respective franchises of ECs through the QTP program.

Paleco claimed this scheme had been successful in the province after it opened up some of its remote and erstwhile unviable areas to other companies. One of them is Rio
Tuba in Bataraza town, now served by PowerSource Philippines Inc. (PPI), which has been providing nonstop electricity to about 1,938 households there since 2005.

PPI had since then extended its services to other areas, including Liminangcong in Taytay municipality, Candawaga and Culasian in Rizal town and Port Barton in San Vicente municipality to serve an additional 2,000 households.

“A similar collaboration is likewise being explored right now in Cabayugan, Puerto Princesa City — which hosts the famous Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park — with the recent entry of the Sabang Renewable Energy Corp.,” it added.

Currently, Cabayugan is 36-percent energized. Its residents only have electricity for three to six hours everyday.

Paleco, the lone power distributor of Puerto Princesa and the municipalities of Aborlan, Narra, Brooke’s Point, Sofronio Espanola, Cuyo, Magsaysay, Quezon, Roxas, Taytay, El Nido, Araceli, San Vicente, Bataraza, Rizal, Balabac, Cagayancillo, Agutaya and Dumaran, is serving 137,277 consumers as of June 2018.

Previously, the NEA, which supervises all 121 ECs in the country, took over Paleco’s management amid frequent brownouts on the island.

In its Dec. 10, 2018 order, the NEA appointed Nelson Lalas as Paleco’s project supervisor/acting general manager who shall be responsible for the co-op’s daily operations to ensure the efficient delivery of electric service to its customers.