Abra pays NGCP to get back power, but fresh deals still sought


09:33 PM January 27th, 2013

January 27th, 2013 09:33 PM

BAGUIO CITY—The Abra provincial board has authorized Gov. Eustaquio Bersamin to advance payments to another of Abra Electric Cooperative’s (Abreco) debtors, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), which restored power supply to all 27 towns on Thursday night, the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) said on Saturday.

The PIA, however, did not give details as to how much the provincial government paid NGCP.

Hours after a blackout struck the province on Thursday due to the withdrawal of its only power supplier over a P56-million debt, a crisis committee composed of officials and civic leaders in Abra also convinced Abreco to impose management changes.

Abra’s power crisis was triggered by Abreco’s debts to the Aboitiz Power Renewables Inc. (APRI), operator of the Tiwi-Makban geothermal power plants in Batangas, Laguna and Albay.

At noon on Jan. 24, APRI disconnected Abreco from its system after it terminated its contract on Jan. 10 over unpaid bills and unfulfilled contractual obligations.

The NGCP arrangements are short-term, said Pura Sumangil, founder of the civic group, Concerned Citizens of Abra for Good Governance.

She said Abra’s consumer groups would meet today to listen to Bersamin and the crisis committee outline the discussions that led to the power restoration in the province.

Mayor Ryan Luna of the capital town of Bangued confirmed that payments were made to return Abra’s electricity, but he could not provide details of the transaction or arrangements made with Abreco.

“The consumers have agreed to petition Abreco to revert to the oversight control of the National Electrification Administration (NEA),” Luna told the Inquirer on Friday.

Unlike most rural electric cooperatives, Abreco is administered by the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA).

PIA said the Abra provincial board had passed a resolution endorsing Abreco’s transfer from CDA to NEA.

In a text message on Thursday, Ria Calleja, Aboitiz Power assistant vice president for corporate branding and communication, said the firm was not ready to comment on the deals reached concerning Abreco.

Sumangil said the consumers expected to be briefed about the processes they are required to undergo to compel changes in Abreco’s team of managers after being assured that NEA officials would join the meeting.

She said a consumer group has been petitioning Abreco to convene a general assembly since December to force managerial changes owing to the power crisis. Vincent Cabreza and Desiree Caluza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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