By Francis Allan Angelo
Billionaire Enrique Razon is on a roll when it comes to his investments in Western Visayas.
After securing a 25-year contract to develop and manage the Iloilo Commercial Port Complex in Iloilo City, Razon’s Negros Electric and Power Corp. (NEPC) is a step closer to getting its congressional franchise to distribute power in Bacolod City and parts of Negros Occidental.
On Tuesday, the Committee on Legislative Franchises presented Committee Report No. 936 on House Bill No. 9805, which was eventually passed on second reading.
This bill aims to grant NEPC a franchise to establish, operate, and maintain an electric power distribution system for commercial purposes and in the public interest.
The franchise is specifically intended to serve the cities of Bacolod, Silay, Talisay, and Bago, as well as the municipalities of Murcia and Don Salvador Benedicto in the province of Negros Occidental for 25 years.
Rep. Gus S. Tambunting, chair of the Legislative and Franchises Committee, emphasized that Central Negros Electric Cooperative (Ceneco) will still own 30 percent of NEPC and all of its debts and financial obligations will be settled through a Joint Venture Agreement.
What will happen to Ceneco employees?
Tambunting assured that the employees will be taken care of and their retirement and separation benefits will be paid in accordance with their Collective Bargaining Agreements.
The bill will have to hurdle the third and final reading in the House plenary before it is finally passed.
NEPC is an affiliate of the Razon-led Primelectric Holdings Inc. It is also a sister company of MORE Electric and Power Corp., the sole power distributor in Iloilo City.
In a statement, NEPC hailed the latest development saying that the “primary objective of this franchise is to ensure the continuous and uninterrupted supply of electricity in Central Negros and meet the energy needs of the residents and contribute to the region’s development and progress.”
“This legislation marks a significant step toward addressing the energy requirements of the covered areas, promoting economic growth, and enhancing the overall quality of electric distribution for the residents.”