‘WE’RE READY FOR MORE’: City DU’s entry ‘not a threat’, ILECO II exec says

By Joseph Bernard A. Marzan

A partnership between MORE Electric and Power Corporation (MORE Power) and the three Iloilo Electric Cooperatives (ILECO) might not be a near possibility.

But one of the cooperatives’ officials does not see MORE Power’s entry into the province as a threat to ILECO II’s existence.

ILECO II’s Technical Services Department Manager Ma. Una Padilla made the comment in a business investment symposium held at the Iloilo State University of Fisheries Science and Technology in Barotac Nuevo on Friday, March 15.

Padilla also presented the importance of the energy sector to local economic development, as well as their achievements and future plans.

ILECO II’s plans include the activation of their Lublub Substation in Barotac Nuevo, the uprating of their existing Calinog Substation, and proposed substations at Imbang Pequeño in Passi City and in Lambunao.

The new Lublub Substation is expected to respond to increasing load demand in Barotac Nuevo and Dumangas, while the Calinog Substation uprating is expected to increase their supply from 10 megavolt-amperes (MVA) to 20MVA, and their Imbang Pequeño and Lambunao substations to add up to 25MVA.

ILECO II is also currently negotiating for 10 megawatts (MW) of embedded solar power supply and with the National Irrigation Administration to extract power from its proposed 6MW power plant within the Jalaur River Multipurpose Project II (JRMP II) system.

This is in addition to the current installation of 69 kilovolts of sub-transmission lines from Dingle to Calinog, Dingle to Dumangas (via Pototan), and from Pototan to Janiuay.

“These projects emphasize the [cooperative’s] strong commitment to improve its infrastructure for the benefit of its member-consumers. Additionally, this reflects [ILECO II’s] financial and technical capabilities to improve its large-scale projects,” Padilla noted.

“We assure [prospective] investors that we want to venture within the coverage area of ILECO II and that we have sufficient capacity and capability to cater to their power needs,” she added.

While she did not explicitly label MORE Power as a competitor during the symposium’s open forum, she expressed confidence in ILECO II’s preparedness for MORE Power’s entrance into their service area before their current franchise ends in 2029.

The ILECOs’ slightly higher rate charges and recurring outages were cited by several local governments in urging MORE Power to expand its franchise, which ultimately resulted in Republic Act No. 11918, which lapsed into law on July 30, 2022.

Padilla explained ILECO II’s higher rates compared to MORE Power, attributing them to generation costs, taxes, and government charges beyond their control. She emphasized that a significant portion of their charges goes directly to these external costs.

“For ILECO II, our lines, our protections, and substations are already in place. We cannot view MORE Power’s entry as a threat, but we are ready. As we’ve shown, ILECO II is financially and technically capable. We have a long way to go until 2029. There’s a lot that will happen in the energy sector, so let’s wait and see,” Padilla said.

“MORE [Power’s] other services is already being practiced by ILECO II. […] We reach out to barangays to cater to their needs, wherein a typical example, is our circuit kilometer, is almost 4,000 kilometers, so if we go around through Iloilo to Roxas [City], to Kalibo [Aklan], and back through Antique. Our men go around for 24 hours to maintain and operate our transmission lines,” she added.

She also clarified that their rates were higher than that of MORE Power because of generation costs, taxes, and government charges, which are outside of their control.

“For ILECO II, 60 percent of our rate goes to our generation costs, and [we] do not have control over that. At the same time, ILECO II only charges 13 percent, so if you have a P100 [electricity] rate, P60 goes to generation, while only P13 goes to ILECO II to maintain its operations. The rest goes to government charges and taxes. ILECO II is only a collector,” she explained.

MORE Power’s Assistant Vice President and Legal Officer, Allana Mae Babayen-on, who was present during the forum, said their expansion is under way, and is part of their 10-year plan to improve supply and services within their coverage area.

Several municipalities within ILECO II’s current franchise area have also been covered in MORE Power’s franchise area under Rep. Act No. 11918. ILECO II’s franchise is set to expire in 2029.

These include New Lucena and Zarraga in the 2nd congressional district and Barotac Nuevo, Dingle, Dueñas, Dumangas, Passi City, and San Enrique in the 4th congressional district.

Babayen-on clarified that they cannot serve these towns just yet, as they are yet to receive the required Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) from the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

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