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Monday, June 17, 2024

JV of Negros power coop, firm a ‘good’ deal —Poe

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Senator Grace Poe said the joint venture between a Negros Occidental electric cooperative and a private company that committed to reducing the power rate in the region by P1 per kilowatt-hour is a “good arrangement.”

The Senate is conducting a hearing on applicants for a power franchise to ensure that it is only granted to “qualified and responsible” entities.

On Tuesday, the franchise application of the joint venture between the Central Negros Electric Cooperative (Ceneco) and Primelectric Holdings Inc. (PHI) called Negros Electric and Power Corp (NEPC) faced scrutiny from senators.

Poe, chairperson of the Senate Public Services Committee, stressed that a franchise is a privilege that comes with the responsibility “to give good services to the people.”

She also warne d that a franchise can be revoked if applicants or service providers fail to do their jobs.

“We want to demand more from our service providers,” Poe said, noting that some service providers often “relax,” because the effectivity of a franchise is 25 years.

In the Senate hearing, the NEPC was asked on the power rates that they might impose.

If granted the franchise, NEPC president Roel Castro said they seea lower electricity cost for its consumers in the province. The executive said their current rate in Iloilo is P9.93 per/kWh.

“Just to enlighten the committee, when we entered Iloilo we immediately entered into an emergency power supply agreement with the existing power generators but we negotiated for a lower rate,” he said during the Senate hearing.

“That’s why upon entering, we’re able to immediately reduce the rate by at least about a peso per kilowatt-hour and we intend to do the same if granted a franchise. We do the same as we enter this joint venture in Central Negros,” he said.

Ceneco general manager Arnel Lapore reported that their losses continue to rise while demand for electricity also increases due to the growing economy.

From P20 million in 2021, Ceneco’s system loss subsidy jumped to P173 million in 2022, the executive said, adding that last year, the recorded loss was at P149 million.

But with a P2.1 billion investment from PHI, he said Ceneco is confident that its problems, including the power outages in Negros Occidental, would be addressed.

“In our five-year development plan, part of the P2.1 billion, we have already allocated P250 million for rural electrification,” Castro. NEPC also guaranteed Ceneco employees they would be given priority in hiring. To date, Castro said, there are more than 250 Ceneco employees who have expressed their interest in joining NEPC.

“We hope that this honorable committee find merit to support this pioneering partnership between private investor and electric cooperative as this will clearly be to the best of interest of the member-consumers and will support the economic growth of Central Negros,” he added.

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