By Alena Mae S. Flores – September 20, 2018 at 07:25 pm
A power crisis is expected to occur in Iloilo City and nearby towns if the franchise of an existing utility operator is not renewed and given to an applicant that has yet to put up the needed infrastructure for electric distribution utility, according to the umbrella organization of private power distributors.
The Private Electric Power Operators Association issued this warning as it questioned the franchise application of a new applicant contesting the renewal bid of current distributor Panay Electric Co.
“We are shocked to learn of the hasty approval of the franchise application of More Minerals Corp. to the detriment of the incumbent distribution utility Panay Electric Company,” the Private Electric Power Operators Association said in a letter to Rep. Franz Alvarez, chairman of the House legislative franchises committee on Sept. 19.
“This development is deeply concerning to us as it puts a highly urbanized city like Iloilo at risk,” the letter stated.
PEPOA president Ranulfo Ocampo alleged the MMC was primarily a mining company, and hence, did not have the technical capability to operate and maintain a power distribution utility.
“Even if MMC were to change its primary purpose into power distribution, no company can get the required experience and qualifications in just a few days,” Ocampo said.
Ocampo, a lawyer by profession, said MMC did not have the track record nor the experience in running an electric distribution utility.
He said Peco has been in the business for 95 years and belonged to the top performers in the country, as public records showed that its system average interruption frequency index was among the top in the country.
“They (Peco) are among the top 15 percent in terms of positive reliability performance compared to the other 146 electric distribution utilities in the country,” the PEPOA leader said.
He also brushed aside allegations of mounting consumer complaints about erroneous billings against Peco, saying official records at the Energy Regulatory Commission indicated that such complaints comprised a negligible 0.01 percent of Peco’s more than 60,000 customers.
“This is not something new to the industry and is certainly not sufficient basis for withholding the franchise renewal of Peco,” Ocampo said.
He said that renewing Peco’s franchise would guarantee a stable power supply in Iloilo City. Ocampo said Peco “has been in partnership together with the immense economic growth of Iloilo City over the last five years.”
“Because of this, the city of Iloilo brings in high economic returns to the Philippines and continues to do so. It does not make sense at all to change that economic growth negatively by approving the electric distribution franchise of MMC,” Ocampo said.