By Alena Mae S. Flores – November 14, 2018 at 07:50 pm
The Energy Department and the Energy Regulatory Commission assured a smooth transition to prevent a citywide blackout when Panay Electric Co.’s franchise expires on Jan. 19, 2019.
“Service must continue regardless,” Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said, adding that Iloilo City consumers should not be affected by the transition.
ERC spokesman Floresinda Digal said the agency was coordinating with all other government agencies involved “in exerting best efforts to make sure that there will be no interruption of supply in Iloilo.”
The Senate public services committee chaired by Senator Grace Poe voted unanimously last month in favor of House Bill No. 8132 granting More Electric and Power Co. owned by businessman Enrique Razon Jr. who provided a P2-billion capitalization.
Peco legal counsel Inocencio Ferrer earlier warned in local interviews that the company would abruptly shut down operations on Jan. 19, 2019 and plunge Iloilo City into a power blackout if its franchise was not extended.
Ferrer said Ilonggos should blame the House and the Senate if a citywide blackout occurred next year, which is contrary to previous pronouncements that Peco is willing to cooperate to ensure a smooth transition.
Peco’s franchise bill still remains in Congress but Iloilo residents and the city council objected to its franchise renewable.
A petition signed by 25,000 Iloilo city residents and an Iloilo City Council resolution opposed the grant of a new franchise to Peco in light of allegations and complaints ranging from overpricing to lousy service to obsolete facilities.
Senators, in a hearing on Oct. 22 conducted by the Senate committee on public services chaired by Poe, discovered that Peco had been allegedly operating in the past 24 years without a legislative franchise in violation of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001.
“In fact, they [Peco] don’t even have a congressional permit and they are operating… In the Constitution, you [Peco] are supposed to have a legislative franchise. So in that alone, I don’t think we need to argue about this….You need to have a franchise from Congress. And that is going to be the problem now because you do not have one,” Poe said.
The Senate convened a technical working group on Nov. 8 to handle the transition plan between Peco and More.