10 M’nao power coops face ‘supply cut-off’

By GRACE BEBER, Reporter

AT least 10 electric cooperatives in Mindanao are in danger of being cut off from the grid for their rising liabilities ranging from alleged inefficiencies in its operations and management and non-payment of accounts due, Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla said.

This after the government has intensified power supply disconnections of ailing cooperatives.

Albay Electric Cooperative (Aleco) and Camarines Sur Electric Cooperative III (Casureco III) were the first to be stricken off the grid by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) due to unpaid bills.

Petilla hinted that next on the chopping block is the Northern Samar Electric Cooperative Inc. (Norsamelco).

He stressed though that options are being explored – including plans for the National Electrification Administration (NEA) to invoke ‘step-in rights’ and for Norsamelco to be eventually offered for an investment management contract (IMC) with interested takers.

In a presentation to the media, NEA Deputy Administrator for Electric Distribution Utilities Services Edgardo R. Piamonte noted that out of the 114 ECs in the country, 18 of them have been posting net loss and labelled as ailing power utilities.

Among those are from Mindanao, which include Davao Oriental Electric Cooperative Inc. ; Agusan del Sur Electric Cooperative Inc, .; First Bukidnon Electric Cooperative Inc.; and Misamis Occidental I Electric Cooperative Inc., Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative Inc.; Basilan Electric Cooperative Inc.; Sulu Electric Cooperative Inc. ; Zamboanga del Sur II Electric Cooperative Inc.; Maguindanao Electric Cooperative Inc.; and Tawi-Tawi Electric Cooperative.

Also in the list are Camarines Sur Electric Cooperative I; Province of Siquijor Electric Cooperative Inc., Marinduque Electric Cooperative Inc.; Negros Oriental I Electric Cooperative Inc.; Quezon I Electric Cooperative Inc.; and Masbate Electric Cooperative Inc.; Kalinga Apayao Electric Cooperative Inc.

There had been sudden rise in the electricity service cut-offs this year following the industry’s tighter policy on collections of arrears from defaulting electric cooperatives and other distribution utilities.

The most-hyped power interruption was that of Albay Electric Cooperative (ALECO) because of its P4.0 billion worth of debts to power suppliers and service providers. Since then, its privatization was fast-tracked with the San Miguel group coming in as its “savior” via a 25-year concession agreement.

According to Piamonte, the general policy enforced on these ailing ECs would be to provide them “180 to 365 days to improve” – and they could either draw performance commitment contract or come up with a work program.

For ECs to be labeled as ‘ailing’, the NEA official explained that they could be saddled with dilemmas such as: high system loss; low collection efficiency; posting operating loss and with huge liabilities and negative net worth. They could also be suffering from institutional problems on governance; consumer per employee ratio; and may also be failing in adhering to policies.

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