Less than three months from now or about December 22nd this year, the province of Albay could be out of electric service, again.
This is the scenario if local end-user power retailer Albay Power Energy Corp. (APEC) will get disconnected from the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) before the end of the year simply for failure in the settlement of its debts.
With 185,324 commercial, industrial and residential customers, the electric company has a low record of 30 per cent collection efficiency.
It must be recalled that hastily formed APEC took over the operations of cash-strapped Albay Electric Cooperative (ALECO) on February 26, 2014.
From the time of takeover up to now, the new power company disclosed it can not even afford to pay its monthly bill charged from the NGCP.
It is the San Miguel Global Energy Power Holdings Corp., APEC’s parent company, which has been subsidizing the payment of monthly bills.
Finance chief Miguel Gopengco confirmed that since San Miguel took over, it has been subsidizing APEC’s average monthly billing of P215 million from NGCP.
Fed up with the financial situation of its subsidiary, San Miguel urged APEC to increase its collection efficiency by at least 50 percent up until December this year. It has warned subsidy for the monthly billings will be cut off.
Gopengco laments that only 3 out of 10 of the total number of consumers are paying regularly which is approximately 55,597 of the 185,324 consumers.
He said the management is planning to strictly implement its one-bill policy.
During the takeover, APEC inherited P4 billion debt from NGCP. But the new management alleges it is not their obligation to pay the loan of ALECO.
APEC has already accumulated P1.6 billion of uncollected bills from the consumers and incurred P200 million system losses.
Before the takeover, the new mangement has knowledge of the goings on in ALECO. Two years with APEC, yet it has not made any efffective corrective measure, so far.
The power end-user retailer is continuously confronted with a monthly erratic system losses of 25 percent due to illegal connections, defective (kilowatt-hour) meters and other pilferages.
Technical head Mark Lucilo said every one percent system loss is equivalent to more than one million pesos.
Lucilo said APEC will also implement massive changing and clustering of meters and line clearings which could reduce losses.
Until after APEC can show improvement from its sagging service, majority of the consumers who refuse to settle their accounts will be hard to convince to pay on time.
After the takeover, the problem still persists.