An economic crisis is looming in Davao del Norte as investors continue to shun the province due to Northern Davao Electric Cooperative Inc.’s (NORDECO) failure to provide reliable power supply in the area, a consumer group said.
Ryan Amper, lead convenor of Davao Consumer Movement, during a radio interview said the group does not see any new businesses setting up shop in their area. “In fact, the businesses are going to Northern Davao’s 2nd District, which has stable and less expensive electricity rates.” He said the group cannot blame businesses for not setting up—or closing down–in their district (1st District).
Amper earlier helped bring public attention to the province’s power supply problems during a recent hearing by the Senate Committee on Energy chaired by Senator Raffy Tulfo.
Since that Senate probe, Amper said nothing has improved as scheduled and unscheduled power interruptions still occur in NORDECO-serviced areas. He said scheduled blackouts last 8 to 9 hours while unscheduled interruptions take about thirty minutes to 4 hours. In fact, the hearings also revealed that NORDECO collects a new daily interest rate, which was not approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), for late payments.
Several business groups have already organized protests against NORDECO since March of this year, with one led by the Chamber of Commerce of Tagum City, and a province-wide protest led by Governor Edwin Jubahib.
Compared to the province’s second district, Amper said that the first district pays PHP 4 to 5 more, totaling PHP13 to 14 per kilowatt hour.
While consumers understand the market’s volatility, he underscored that other power companies in neighboring districts have managed to keep prices low and still provide better services. “Nagbabayad ng napakamahal per kilowatt hour, pero hindi rin naman steady at maganda ang serbisyo,” said Amper.
While Amper thanked the Senate and Congress for holding hearings on the issue and for crafting a consolidated bill to help address their concerns, which he considers a step to victory for concerned consumers, he also urged regulatory bodies to help quickly resolve the electricity woes before the district suffers an irrevocable economic crisis.
Jubahib, who also appeared during the said Senate hearing to air the plight of his province mates, also warned of an economic crisis in the province if the power woes caused by NORDECO are not resolved immediately.
“Ang epekto po dito ay talagang babagsak ang ekonomiya namin dahil alam naman natin na itong kuryente ay basic utility. Ito ang kinakailangan ng ating mga negosyante para sa kanilang mga negosyo,” Jubahib said during a previous radio interview.