Amid legal battles, Peco assures stable power supply

PECO Corporate Communications Officer Mikel Afzelius (right) and Information Technology and Administration Officer Marcelo Cacho (left)

PANAY Electric Co. (Peco) assured Iloilo City consumers of continuous and stable electricity supply despite facing various business and legal concerns with the bid of MORE Electric and Power Co. (MORE Power) to wrest distribution services in the city.

In a phone interview, Peco administrative manager Marcelo Cacho said they are confident in renewing their certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) from the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

Peco’s CPCN, which allows distribution firms to operate in their franchise areas, will expire by May 25, 2019.

“We have filed all the required evidence with the ERC and we believe that ERC is bound to give us the CPCN under MORE Power’s franchise,” Cacho said.

While it has yet to secure a CPCN, MORE Power has acquired a congressional franchise via Republic Act 11212.

One of the provisions of the franchise is to allow the existing distributor to operate until MORE Power is able to take over distribution services in the city.

Cacho said they don’t believe that MORE Power would be able to secure the CPCN “because they don’t have the assets and facilities which is a major requirement by the ERC.”

To cure the asset problem, MORE Power filed March 11, 2019 an expropriation case with the Regional Trial Court in Iloilo City in a bid to acquire Peco’s distribution assets.

Peco tried to stop MORE Power in its tracks by securing a temporary restraining order (TRO) from the Mandaluyong City Regional Trial Court Branch 209 on March 13.

The Mandaluyong case, which was filed on March 6, questioned the constitutionality of MORE Power’s congressional franchise.

But on March 28, MORE Power managed to secure a 60-day TRO from the Court of Appeals preventing the Mandaluyong City RTC Branch 209 from enforcing its TRO against RA 11212.

Cacho said they already filed a motion to suspend the expropriating proceedings in light of the Mandaluyong RTC case.

He also pointed out that MORE Power lacks the technical personnel who will run vital facilities like the substations and trouble shooters who will respond to outages.

“Yes they have administrative and human resource personnel but who will run the substations and other distribution facilities? Who will act as their trouble shooters?” Cacho said.

Cacho said the issue on the CPCN and other matters will become clearer by June 5 even as he assured that Iloilo City will never run out of power.

“What is clear right now is that power distribution in the city remains smooth and continuous despite localized and isolated outages. It is natural for a growing city like ours to experience some disturbance because of ongoing constructions and other activities but what matters is that Peco is still able to serve the consumers.”