ILOILO City – In its “Post Fire Comprehensive Report” submitted to the Energy Regulation Commission (ERC), Panay Electric Co. (PECO) insisted that four out of five pole fire incidents here were poles owned by telecommunications companies (telcos). It belied earlier reports that the company was involved in over 700 pole fires in this southern city.
The PECO report, which covered the years 2017 to 2019, stated there were 709 post fires recorded by the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and of these, only 138 involved PECO’s own poles.
“Regarding the 138 items attributable to PECO poles and equipment from 2017-2019, short circuits on service lines are the most common issues reported to customers which are caused by additional loads, customers allowing relatives or neighbors to attach on single service connection,” stressed PECO head of Public Engagement and Government Affairs Marcelo Cacho.
Cacho added that there have been secondary lines/drop wires, transformer leakage, defective transformers, busted fuse cut-outs that were brought about by pilferage or illegal connections.
Other concerns originated from force majeure and bad weather conditions, flash overs, and the presence of vegetation, he stressed.
The ERC started an investigation last week after receiving a complaint about poorly maintained distribution lines, power outages, and hazardous electric posts.
Regarding the recent two-day power outages, Cacho said, “The blackout in the entire Panay Island, and simultaneous electric pole fires in the city, were beyond the control of PECO yet it was used to show us in a bad light by overlooking the facts and stating mere assumptions.”
“Now, consumers are asking. Is this sabotage to mask the reality that the new power distribution franchise holder is not capable of serving Iloilo because they have no distribution infrastructure in place at all,” Cacho added.
PECO is the current power distributor in Iloilo City and the company’s rival is More Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power) which is aiming to expropriate PECO’s distribution assets.
MORE Power has secured a 25-year power distribution franchise in Iloilo City from Congress.
PECO’s franchise expired on Jan. 19 this year and it failed to secure one from Congress over mounting consumer complaints such as poor service quality and safety, unfriendly customer relations and frequent power outages, among others.
PECO is currently operating under a provisional Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity from ERC to prevent disruption in power distribution until MORE Power secures the city’s power distribution system or sets up its own./PN