Legazpi city, July 21 — We are waiting, in a few hours from now, if the National Power Grid Corporation of the Philippines will be prevailed from cutting off the power supply to the Albay Electric Cooperative after 9:00 o’clock in the morning of Monday. Many times in the past months and years, the NPGC has constantly threatened the bankrupt electric service retailer of Albay for its failure to settle electric bills with the Philippine Electric Market Corporation.
The persistent “damocles” of disconnection is in timing when the people of Albay were gearing to listen on radio and watch in television the afternoon State of the Nation Address by President Benigno S. Aquino, III. (We are rushing this article to be online in due time, before that happen! We mean the disconnection.)
Aleco is also burdened with almost P4Bn debt with various wholesale power suppliers, including the PEMC, the National Power Corporation, Wholesale Electricity Spot Market and the National Electrification Administration.
Overheard from the grape vine the president (of the Republic) and Albay governor Joey Salceda, are not intervening in the current predicament of Aleco, so far.
In the last week of June, the same cut-off prospect was deferred after Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla approved the request of the League of Municipalities and the League of Cities to give Aleco time to raise funds to settle its account with PEMC.
That time Aleco spokesperson Hazel Morallos disclosed that a letter of appeal was jointly signed by ourgoing Legazpi city Mayor Geraldine Rosal, president of the League of Cities, and Daraga Mayor Gerry Jaucian, president of the League of Municipalities of Albay.
The PEMC considered the request, gave the cooperative until July 3 to settle its account for April and May this year. The deadline was extended again up until 9:00 o’clock of Monday and the disconnection order will get implemented.
Much earlier, the National Electrification Administration has taken over the supervision of Aleco after the cooperative suffered huge financial losses due to mismanagement, high system loss and antiquated power transformers and equipment.
Aleco’s system loss at 25.17 percent, is over and above the 13 percent allowable cap by the Energy Regulatory Commission. Aleco subsidizes the system loss above cap at around P14 million a month.
The Aleco interim board of directors headed by Legazpi Bishop Joel Baylon has been exerting efforts to privatize the cooperative’s operation through the Private Sector Participation (PSP) system which would allow a private power company to take over and operation of the coop for 25 years. A concerned group of anti-privatization consumers has blocked the proposal by way of a court restraining order.