Group lauds NEPC chief for Ceneco ‘cleanup’

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD CITY – Power Watch Negros, a consumer watchdog, has commended Roel Castro, President and Chief Executive Officer of Negros Electric and Power Corporation (NEPC), for purging the Central Negros Electric Cooperative (Ceneco) of alleged corrupt and consumer-unfriendly practices.

Wennie Sancho, Secretary-General of Power Watch Negros, said Friday that the preliminary actions taken by NEPC are strong indicators of its commitment to Ceneco’s rehabilitation, aiming to restore it to an efficient and well-managed distribution utility (DU).

At the Negros Island Power Forum on March 20, 2024, Castro disclosed that a joint survey conducted with Ceneco uncovered a total of 80,000 electrical meters lacking seals, along with an additional 5,000 to 6,000 illegal connections within its franchise area, leading to an overall 12 percent systems loss for Ceneco.

Sancho argued that such discrepancies are unfair to consumers who pay their bills promptly, as they end up subsidizing the power theft or system loss.

“We are being made to pay for the power supply that we did not use,” he lamented.

Power Watch Negros feels vindicated in its contention that Ceneco has been grossly negligent in protecting consumer rights, according to Sancho.

He said that it’s tragic for those Ceneco employees who opposed the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA), NEPC’s franchise, and privatization, and are now implicated in neglect of duty.

“They have no right and they do not deserve to be working with NEPC if performance will be the criteria,” Sancho added, insisting on accountability for this oversight.

“The supervisors and department heads should be made to explain about this fiasco,” he said, questioning if the concerned employees had intentionally overlooked unsealed meters and illegal connections.

Sancho emphasized that reform and rehabilitation in distribution utilities (DUs) and electric cooperatives (ECs) have been long overdue, labeling these institutions as symbols of graft and corruption.

He concluded by highlighting the necessity of privatizing DUs and ECs to meet the growing demands of the power market amid vast economic development and the rapid expansion of technologies.

“There is an urgent need to upgrade grids because electricity is expanding as the backbone of our economy,” Sancho stressed.

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