Power retailer MORE Electric and Power Corp. and the Iloilo City government led by Mayor Jerry Treñas issued a stern warning to the alleged syndicate behind the rising incidents of pilferage of electricity in the city.
MORE Power president Roel Castro said the huge number of illegal power connections in the city was the biggest contributing factor to high electricity rates that Iloilo residents paid under the old utility Panay Electric Co.
The illegal connections caused overloading in the distribution system and damage to equipment, including distribution lines and electricity transformers, he said.
“The proliferation of illegal connections in the city, which has been a problem since the time of the previous distribution utility, drives up systems losses which are actually paid for legitimate consumers,” Castro said.
MORE said it was receiving two to three reports of illegal power connections every day and a technical analysis showed there could be around 30,000 illegal power connections that raised the total system losses to 20 percent.
Castro said these illegal connections could account for as much as 20 megawatts of the 100 megawatts that Iloilo City consumes every day.
“Illegal connections are the main causes of unscheduled brownouts because the lines and transformers are overloaded. If we can lower the systems losses, it will translate into lower rates. It also has aesthetic value because we will minimize those illegal wirings that are attached to our distribution lines,” Castro said.
He said it was possible that an organized group was operating in the city to profit from illegal power connections.
“[It is] possible [that it is committed by an] organized group. It already became a business. The syndicates have their assigned areas, or franchise so to speak. We already identified them and in due time we will deal with them,” Castro said.
Treñas said the city government imposed severe penalties for those involved after the arrest of two suspects found removing an electric meter of MORE Power in Arevalo district.
“We would like to decrease the percentage of systems loss to lower the cost of electricity in the city,” Trenas said.
The two suspects, in a police investigation, admitted they attempted to dismantle the electric meter on the orders of someone else who allegedly asked them to transfer it to another place.
The two suspects are now detained at the Arevalo police station and faces charges for violating the Anti-Pilferage of Electricity Act and Theft of Electric Transmission Lines/Materials Act of 1994.
“We will apply the national law. All law enforcement agencies, PNP and City Hall are supposed to implement the law. And I will implement the law. I have no choice. I will file cases if need be. For the bail bond, amount is double the amount of pilfered power. So it will be very harsh,” Treñas said.
He urged Iloilo residents to stop pilfering electricity and apply for regular power connections under MORE Power’s iKonek program, a joint program between the city government and the distribution utility to go after power pilferers in the city.
MORE Power also established a one-stop shop to process the application for regular power connection accounts within 10 to 12 days.