By: Emme Rose Santiagudo
MORE Power and Electric Co. (MORE Power) assured Iloilo City business leaders that it is ready to provide quality power distribution in the metro once it replaces the current power distributor, Panay Electric Co. (PECO).
We are offering excellent customer service and cheaper rates. Once we come in. I will have that 25 years and I will execute, said MORE Power President and CEO Roel Castro.
In a forum prganized by the Iloilo Economic Development Foundation Inc. (ILED), MORE Power presented its plans and commitment to the business sector in a closed-door meeting at Hotel Del Rio on February 28, 2019.
During the presentation, Castro vowed to provide excellent customer services through friendlier and simplified application process and accessible payment centers.
Citing the current situation of the existing power distributor, Castro said MORE Power would target spaghetti wires, dilapidated meters, unsafe meter height and leaning poles.
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.
By sourcing its power requirement at the least cost, MORE Power is offering an indicative potential savings of P1.21/kilowatt-hour (kWh).
Castrop said they have been negotiating with possible power producers in the Visayas.
Our negotiations are on the final stages with AP Renewables Inc, KEPCO SPC Power Corporation, and Palm Concepcion Power Corporation. They are offering 1/3 less of the existing power generation , which is P7.84 kWh as of January 2019. That is P6.63/kWh vs P7.84/kWh,” he explained.
Aside from the three cheap sourcers, MORE Power will also draw power from Panay Energy Development Corporation and the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM).
MORE Powers presentation received nods and applauds from most of the business leaders present but it also did not stop some from questioning MORE Power’s indicative plans, particularly their lack of concrete steps in putting up their assets once it assumes the distribution business from PECO.
Iloilo Federation for Information Technology (IFIT) executive director Joeven Tansi said the presentation was vague and not concrete.
Tansi emphasized that what the business sector wants are specific steps like the timetable for setting up the infrastructures in the light of the transition period.
“Iloilo is in progress state and there are a lot of investors 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 Palmares said putting up one pole and substations would not be enough assurance to the business sector.
“When is the single pole, if you want to put up a substation, where is that and when will that happen. We want proof of concept. All that we have been listening are all plans, indicatives. We want concrete. Just put up one pole and substation, that would be enough assurance,” Palmares stressed.
Castro admitted that he cannot tell the exact date of the full takeover from PECO.
“I cannot give you a concrete answer on when we are taking over that is why I am advocating for amicable settlement. We will put up pole and start the substations if we want by March but if they raise all the remedies we have to undergo the process,” he said.
President Duterte on Feb 14, 2019 signed Republic Act No. 11212 which granted MORE Power the power distribution franchise in Iloilo City.
The law gives MORE Power the authority to establish, operate, and maintain, for commercial purposes and in the public interest, a distribution system for the conveyance of electric power to end users in the city of Iloilo.
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 the distribution operations to MORE Power.
But PECO has maintained that it will not sell its assets to MORE Power and will continue the fight all the way to the Supreme Court.
Despite this, Castro is confident with the provision of eminent domain included in the franchise particularly that MORE Power according to them is on the legal side.
“The legal remedies are not only left for them, we’re on the upperhand especially that we are on the legal side. Government will never leave the tug of war between the two power firms 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.
Under, Sec. 10 of RA 11212, the grantee (MORE Power) is authorized to exercise 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.
Meanwhile, Castro said the Department of Energy would be meeting with MORE Power and PECO to discuss the transition plans today.