MORE Power and Electric Co. (MORE Power) said it will provide lower power rates when it takes over the concession from Iloilo City from the current power distributor, Panay Electric Co. (PECO).
“We are offering excellent customer service and cheaper rates. Once we come in. I a 25-year (concession period) and I will execute,” MORE Power President and CEO Roel Z. Castro told business leaders.
In a forum organized by the Iloilo Economic Development Foundation Inc. (ILED), MORE Power presented its plans and commitments to the business sector in a closed-door meeting at Hotel Del Rio on Feb. 28.
During the presentation, Mr. Castro also said he plans to simplify the application process for power services and make payment centers more accessible.
The company will also seek to address substandard and unsafe wiring connections, power meters and poles allegedly in place under PECO.
“With a total project capital expenditure (CAPEX) of P1.3-billion, MORE Power will be infusing reliability improvement projects which includes rehabilitation of 69 kilovolt (KV) lines, installation of tie-up points at remaining feeders, Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA), increase the capacity to construct substations, rehabilitate the old electromechanical meters to electronic meters and secondary lines among others,” he said during the presentation.
MORE said it plans to pursue a least-cost strategy of power sourcing and estimates indicative potential savings of P1.21/kilowatt-hour (kWh).
Mr. Castro said the company has been negotiating with possible power producers in the Visayas.
“Our negotiations are in their final stages with AP Renewables Inc, KEPCO SPC Power Corp., and Palm Concepcion Power Corp.. They are offering 1/3 less on the existing power generation charge, which is P7.84 kWh as of January 2019. That is P6.63/kWh vs P7.84/kWh,” he said.
MORE Power will also draw power from Panay Energy Development Corp. and the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM).
Some foru participants questioned MORE Power’s readiness to take over from PECO.
Iloilo Federation for Information Technology (IFIT) executive director Joeven Tansi said the presentation was vague and not concrete.
Mr. Tansi said the business sector wants specifics like the timetable for setting up new infrastructure during the transition period.
“Iloilo is making progress and a lot of investors are coming in. Right now a lot of questions are coming to us. The government cannot give us a concrete answer, PECO cannot give us a concrete answer and you are not giving us a concrete answer,” he said.
IFIT Chairman Jessraf S. Palmares said the business setor requires more assurances on the transition.
“We want proof of concept. All that we have been listening to are indicative plans. We want concrete action. Putting up poles and substations would be enough assurance,” Mr. Palmares said.
Mr. Castro said he dos not yet know the exact date of the takeover from PECO pending the settlement of all legal issues.
“I cannot give you a concrete answer on when we are taking over. That is why I am advocating an amicable settlement (for PECO’s exit). We can put up poles and start the substations by March but if (PECO wants to pursue) all the legal remedies we have to go through the process,” he said.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Feb. 14 signed Republic Act No. 11212 which granted MORE Power the power distribution franchise in Iloilo City.
Based on the congressional franchise, MORE Power is authorized to distribute power for 25 years starting from the date of effectivity unless sooner cancelled or revoked.
PECO, whose franchise expired on Jan 19, 2019, has a maximum of two years to transfer distribution operations to MORE Power.
But PECO has maintained that it will not sell its assets to MORE Power and will go to the Supreme Court if necessary.
Mr. Castro said the takeover could involve government intervention if the standoff persists.
“Government will never allow the two power firms (to remain in a) tug-of-war at the expense of consumers. I am sure the government will not let the people suffer,” he said.
Eminent domain refers to the power to take private property for public use by a state, municipality, or private person or corporation authorized to exercise functions of public character, following the payment of just compensation to the owner of that property.
Section 10 of RA 11212 confers on MORE Power “the power of eminent domain in so far as it may be reasonable and necessary for the efficient establishment, improvement, upgrading, rehabilitation, maintenance and operation of services subject to limitations and procedures prescribed by law.” — Emme Rose S. Santiagudo