NEA confirms Ceneco JVA approval in plebiscite

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – The National Electrification Administration (NEA) has confirmed the approval of the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) between the Central Negros Electric Cooperative (Ceneco) and Primelectric Holdings Inc. by the majority vote of the cooperative’s members-consumers.

NEA also confirmed the approval after no protest was filed against the result of the plebiscite.

A memorandum signed by NEA administrator Antonio Mariano Almeda on September 12, 2023 said that “the NEA confirms the final result of the plebiscite as determined, proclaimed and submitted to it by Ceneco with 98,591 votes for the approval of the JVA and 6,899 votes against the same and therefore further finds that majority of Ceneco’s MCOs (members- consumers) eligible to participate in the plebiscite have voted to approve the JVA.”

The memorandum further said that Ceneco is directed to submit the JVA to NEA for its consent in accordance with Presidential Decree 269 or the National Electrification Administration Decree.

Almeda also said that Ceneco should be prepared to answer any questions or queries from NEA on the JVA.

The memorandum also stated that NEA “expressly reserves the right to impose further conditions for its consent for the JVA for the protection of the Ceneco members- consumers.”

Almeda said that Ceneco should also be ready to “present a plan on how it intends to secure the consent of any other lending source which holds a lien on any of Ceneco’s properties as required under PD 269.”

The memorandum also cited that NEA, though the Office of the Administrator, shall have jurisdiction over post-plebiscite protests.

It further stated that a protest of the result should be made three days after the announcement of the result of the plebiscite.

The NEA memorandum said that “all concerned parties are deemed notified of the proclamation of the plebiscite result as of the date of the earliest publication which was on September 7, 2023.

“Thus, any concerned party had three days after the publication of the proclamation of the plebiscite results or September 10, 2023, to file any protest relating to its conduct,” the memorandum stated.

“As of this date, neither the NEA nor Ceneco Project Supervisor has been informed of any such protest having been filed by any party.”

Earlier, Ceneco acting general manager Atty. Arnel Lapore said that the JVA plebiscite was ordered concluded by NEA after the affirmative threshold was achieved.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Lapore said the Ceneco board headed by Jojit Yap declared the termination of the plebiscite in a meeting.

Lapore said that with the JVA approved, the joint venture will start soon and will take about eight months for everything to be in place as the agreement provided.

He added that part of the process will be the application for a franchise for 25 years for the Negros Electric Power Corp, which is the Ceneco-Primelectric merger company.

Lapore stressed that as far as the JVA is concerned, at least 70 percent of the workforce of Ceneco may be rehired while others may opt to retire.

“It is their option, but the employment package is better,” he added.

He further said that with the JVA approved, Ceneco will now focus on reducing the systems loss or power lost to technical causes and pilferage.

On his part, Primelectric president Roel Castro assured the firm’s “seamless” entry into Ceneco’s area.

“As far as Primelectric Holdings Inc. is concerned, we will make sure that it is going to be a seamless entry,” Castro told reporters here.

He said that the JVA intends to bring better services, competitive rates, and make the consumers feel that what they are paying is worth in terms of services.

Under the JVA, an initial P2 billion will be infused to modernize Ceneco’s aging and outdated facilities, on top of the P1.7 billion payment for the purchase of the electric cooperative’s assets.

Castro said he will meet with the Ceneco management and board of directors to determine the help they could extend to the ailing distribution facility, as long it will not violate any provision of the NEA charter and applicable laws.

Primelectric will extend the help while NEPC applies for a franchise in Congress.