Facing franchise hearing, PECO invokes ‘common ground’ with city council

BY GLENDA SOLOGASTOA

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

ILOILO City – Is it okay with Panay Electric Company (PECO) if the congressional hearing for its franchise’s renewal is conducted in this city?

“We believe the city council wants to protect the rights of the citizens while we in PECO want to serve our valued consumers better,” said Mikel Afzelius, PECO corporate communications officer.

The city council unanimously approved a resolution last week requesting the Committee on Legislative Franchises of the Lower House to hold the hearing in this city.

PECO is the sole power distributor in this city. Its franchise will expire in 2019.

“We have a common ground in trying to help the people of Iloilo City,” said Afzelius.

The city council resolution proponent was Councilor Joshua Alim who, citing consumers’ complaints, said it would be better if PECO’s franchise is not renewed and that the power distribution business in the city is opened to other players that may offer much better service.

“We have repeatedly tried to reach out to Councilor Alim since we have resolved consumer complaints together in the past,” said Afzelius.

Alim had been helping consumers prepare complaints mostly about alleged violations on the Magna Carta for Residential Electricity Consumers for filing at the Energy Regulatory Commission.

“We are open to sit down with him and the complainants to address the complaints once and for all,” said Afzelius.

In April, the SP, too, urged the House of Representatives to investigate PECO and the following complaints of consumers: unreliable meter readings, sudden rise in electric bills, arrogant employees, and unexplained charges.

RATES GOING DOWN

According to Afzelius, its rates were actually going down over the past seven years.

This is mainly because of the entry of Panay Energy Development Corp.’s (PEDC) coal-fired plant in 2010 and the increase in size of power demand in Iloilo City, he said.

PECO is also not affected by the slashing of power subsidies across the country which increased the rate of several electric distribution utilities, he added.

Afzelius said PECO’s rates are expected to further drop by P.26/kwh since its diesel contract with Panay Power Corp. (PPC) will be swapped with a coal contract from PEDC.

“This means a reduction of P52 per month for those consuming P2,000 of electricity a month. In addition, drawing 10 megawatts from Palm Concepcion Power Corp. (PCPC) this December will also contribute to the rate reduction,” said Afzelius.

‘COMPETITIVE’

In Panay Island, Afzelius said, the current rates of PECO are competitive with those of electric cooperatives.

“This is attractive to investors which is why many big developments have happened in the city in the last three years,” he said.

Aside from “good rates”, Afzelius said PECO is also capable of supporting the energy needs of business.

“Big investors do their homework. It is not by accident that they are here. These investors are comfortable in investing in cities run by private utilities because of the confidence they have in private firms,” he pointed out.

PECO, he said, “makes sure to take care of these investors to spur economic growth in the city and to provide major job opportunities for our fellow Ilonggos.”

Anybody can factually check the rates of electric distribution utilities around the country through the Department of Energy website www.kuryente.org.ph, he added.

Based on kuryente.org.ph, the following are the overall charges of distribution utilities in Panay Island, Metro Cebu and Central Negros.

* Capelco (Capiz) – P13.2241

* Guimelco (Guimaras) – P13.0144

* Anteco (Antique) – P11.6007

* Ileco 3 (Iloilo province) – P11.5439

* Ileco 1 (Iloilo province) – P11.3442

* Ileco 2 (Iloilo province) – P10.9465

* Veco (Metro Cebu) – P10.8584

* PECO (Iloilo City) – P10.7627

* Akelco (Aklan) – P10.6849

* Ceneco (Central Negros) – P9.6318

Rates vary depending on the location of the power distribution utility and what power suppliers are available, said Afzelius.

“Contrary to what some false statements claim that the country is moving to have more cooperatives, the truth is that power cooperatives are constantly incurring huge debts which burden tax payers,” he said./PN