ILECO I capital expenditure sufficient but aims for growth

By Joseph Bernard A. Marzan

An Iloilo Electric Cooperative I (ILECO I) official said on Friday, April 19, that while their capital expenditure (capex) has bolstered their load capacity to meet present demands, they are aiming for continued development in response to consumption growth.

ILECO I’s corporate planning officer-in-charge, Edwin Figueroa, told Daily Guardian on Air that their standard capex projects, worth about P100 million annually, have doubled their capacity from 30 to 65 megawatts (MW).

The improvements, including pole compliance, transformer maintenance, and meter installations, have fortified their network.

“As far as our capacity requirement is concerned, we have installed enough capacity in our substations. Our network now has strong primary lines,” Figueroa said.

The substation expansion that began in 2011 is ongoing; the 30 megavolt-ampere (MVA) Pavia substation is at 40 percent capacity, with 60 percent untapped, and the 10MW Leganes substation is their latest addition.

Figueroa explained that their three-year capex amounts to approximately P500 million, based on their filings with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

To enhance power reliability, they are installing insulated wires and animal-proofing measures.

For customer convenience, ILECO I partnered with third-party collection agents like Palawan Pawnshop, GCash, Maya, and banks.

Figueroa noted a 4 to 5 percent annual growth in consumption, which dipped during the pandemic but rebounded afterward.

This surge is attributed to the increasing density of residential, commercial, and industrial activity, most especially along the President Corazon Aquino Avenue (Iloilo Circumferential Road 1), which traverses Iloilo City and Oton and Pavia towns, with connections to roads leading to Leganes and Dumangas towns as well as Antique province.

Figueroa mentioned that ILECO I is planning for growth along new roads, collaborating with local governments to anticipate consumer needs and considering substation additions within the next 5 to 10 years.

“We are preparing for that. We are asking [local government units] for their development plans, for any future roads. We are getting their data so that we can also foresee future requirements of our consumers,” he said.

With a dedicated maintenance team for each town in their service area and ongoing recruitment, ILECO I ensures round-the-clock availability. They also invest in safety training and support for the families of employees injured or killed on duty.

As a ‘mega-large’ cooperative, ILECO I has a peak demand of up to 65 MW and serves 180,000 consumers across 15 Iloilo municipalities – Alimodian, Cabatuan, Guimbal, Igbaras, Leganes, Leon, Maasin, Miag-ao, Oton, Pavia, San Joaquin, San Miguel, Santa Barbara, Tigbauan, and Tubungan.

Their electricity is sourced from Green Core Geothermal, Inc. in Negros Occidental and Panay Energy Development Corporation, complemented by the spot market.

March 2024 saw a reduced average rate of P11.40 per kilowatt-hour, a drop from February’s P13.08/kWh. The spike in February was attributed to increased demand and plant shutdowns impacting the spot market.

“Recently, spot market rates rose. If we can recall, may plants shut down [in January]. That is why, based on the law of supply and demand, when the supply is lacking, the spot market rates rise. Every 5 minutes, the spot market has a system where power generators have to bid,” Figueroa explained.