DOE vow to assess electric coops’ performance fairly

THE Department of Energy (DOE) assured that it will deliver a fair assessment on the performance of electric cooperatives (ECs), following an announcement that it will review the franchise compliance of ECs nationwide.

“There will be due process for all ECs. Our priority is to address the root causes of their problems and help in their rehabilitation so they may provide the quality of service consumers in their franchise areas truly deserve,” DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi said on Wednesday.

The DOE said last week that it will look into the quality of services delivered by ECs, which is supposed to be government’s partners in electrifying far-flung areas, after many ECs have reportedly failed to comply with their mandate.

The DOE named 17 ECs “that have been chronically failing to provide satisfactory services required by their electric distribution franchise”. These include DANECO in Davao del Norte, ALECO in Albay, BASELCO in Basilan, CASURECO III in Camarines Sur, FICELCO in Catanduanes, LASURECO in Lanao, MASELCO in Masbate, OMECO in Occidental Mindoro, ORMECO in Oriental Mindoro, PALECO in Palawan, PELCO in Pampanga, SULECO in Sulu, and ZAMCELCO in Zamboanga.

The department noted that even President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed his dismay over the poor power services in Palawan and Masbate.

Residents have reportedly been complaining about the persistent and unresolved brownouts in their areas, even as some ECs are heavily in debt and have been failing to pay creditors.

DOE also said it may cancel the franchises of non-compliant ECs.

“As we seek to attain total electrification of the country by 2020, we will ensure that all operating ECs are providing the best services to their consumers. Our fellow countrymen deserve nothing less,” Cusi earlier said.

“We trust that ECs in these problem areas will cooperate with the DOE’s constructive efforts to get to the heart of their long running problems. We will work with the ECs in creating and implementing viable solutions for the benefit of their consumers,” he added.

ECs and the National Electrification Administration have provided services to 78 provinces, 1,475 cities and municipalities, 36,057 barangays, 123,198 sitios, and 12.71 million household connections according to Philippine Rural Electric Cooperatives Association (PHILRECA).

Meanwhile, PHILRECA, in a statement over the weekend, reacted to Cusi’s call for the revocation of the 17 ECs franchises, saying the industry deserves assistance rather than punishment. “We call on Secretary Cusi to treat all electric cooperatives with fairness and justice. We deserve no less,” the PHILRECA statement read.

Rather than cancelling the franchises, PHILRECA said it is best for the government to support these ECs by rehabilitating them. (PNA)