Game over for PECO?

FROM recent events it seems that it’s finally game over for Panay Electric Co. or PECO. But is it?

It is already common knowledge and welcomed by most natives of “I Am Iloilo City” that PECO’s franchise to operate has finally expired on Jan. 19, 2019 and Congress granting MORE Power the franchise to be the power provider.

As of the moment PECO is operating on a temporary CPCN or Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity while in a transition period awaiting the final takeover of MORE Power as “I Am Iloilo City’s” power provider.

It was supposed to be a smooth transition since MORE Power has already deposited in a bank P481.84 million, an amount equivalent to the minimum assessed value of PECO’s distribution assets.

Bearing in mind that PECO has been operating in “I Am Iloilo City” for almost 100 years, whatever amount it has invested has been paid by the consumers 100 times over.

Of course, PECO opted to go the hard way and filed cases in court with the ulterior motive of delaying tactics until a friendly Congress grants it a new franchise.

And the “tantrums” of PECO got the ire of “I Am Iloilo City” mayor Geronimo as all these are making a mockery of his goal to “level up” the city.

What broke the “camel’s back” or in this case “I Am Iloilo City”, Mayor Geronimo’s peaceful demeanor, were: the two-day blackout, rash of electrical poles fires, and unpaid P98 million real property taxes plus operating without a proper business permit.

If that was bad enough, here’s more (pun intended);

Excerpts from the Dec. 5, 2019 issue of Panay News:

BIG WIN FOR MORE POWER

Supreme Court issues TRO vs RTC Mandaluyong, PECO

MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power) is inching closer to finally taking over the power distribution system here.

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court (SC) En Banc has stopped the implementation of the ruling of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Mandaluyong City declaring two sections of MORE Power’s franchise law void and unconstitutional.

Aside from RTC Mandaluyong City Branch 209 presiding Judge Monique Quisumbing-Ignacio, also enjoined from implementing the lower court’s ruling was Panay Electric Co. (PECO), their agents, representatives or persona acting in their behalf.

“With the issuance of the TRO by the Supreme Court, MORE Power is confident that the lower court will take its cue and decisively rule on the Application for the Issuance of the Writ of Possession. With all due respect, the law and rules are clear: Upon compliance with the requirements, a petitioner in an expropriation case is entitled to a writ of possession as a matter of right and it becomes the ministerial duty of the trial court to forthwith issue the writ of possession,”

According to the Supreme Court, the TRO it issued should remain in effect until further orders from it.

And we have more (again pun intended) nails to the almost closed coffin of PECO. Excerpts from the Dec. 6, 2019 issue of Panay News:

OPERATIONAL LAPSES

ERC to PECO: Lives, properties at risk

Panay Electric Co. (PECO) committed operational and maintenance lapses that endanger consumers’ lives and properties, results of the Energy Regulatory Commission’s (ERC) inspection here showed. For this, the franchise-less power distribution utility faces administrative and possibly criminal sanctions.

ERC sent a technical team to this southern city last month following Mayor Jerry Treñas’ complaint over a series of pole fires. PECO’s electric distribution system was inspected.

The team discovered lapses in PECO’s “operations and (in the) maintenance of its distribution system thereby posing danger and risks to the lives and properties of its consumers,” according to ERC chairperson and chief executive officer Agnes Devanadera.

In an order dated Nov. 26, 2019, PECO’s directors and officers were required to explain why no administrative penalties should be imposed and/or criminal action instituted against them for violating pertinent provisions of the law.

ERC also discovered that the Certificate of Authority (CA) for PECO’s meter shop expired on Nov. 18, 2019 and the company had not filed an application for the renewal of the same.

“PECO must submit its explanation within 15 days from receipt of the Commission’s order pursuant to the relevant provisions of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA). We need to accord PECO the opportunity to explain its side before we evaluate the extent of their liability for the operational lapses that were discovered,” Devanadera said.

Which brings this question: Were the lapses committed because of incompetence?

Perhaps PECO should just take the decent way out and save the natives of “I Am Iloilo City” from a prolonged agony of uncertainty, and support Mayor Geronimo’s program to “level up.” After all, they won’t lose; they are compensated for more than enough. ([email protected]/PN)

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