Town to lose electricity as unpaid bills pile upPhilippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The electric supply company that owns and operates a hydropower facility in Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija, on Saturday announced it would cut off power to the town for town officials’ failure to settle debts exceeding P20 million.
But First Gen Hydro Power Corp. (FGHPC) said in a notice sent by e-mail to the Inquirer that it would continue supplying electricity to key institutions in the town, including its schools.
In the notice, FGHPC said it would start cutting power at noon tomorrow (Feb. 11) to Pantabangan Municipal Electric Services (Pames), the electric cooperative owned by the municipal government.
FGHPC said it is constrained to make the move after Pames again failed to settle its power debts. Unpaid bills from July to December last year now amount to P8,762,405.58.
FGHPC last disconnected power to Pames on July 23 last year after the cooperative failed to honor a March 16, 2012, restructuring agreement, in which Pames acknowledged a total debt of more than P80 million.
The amount represented power bills unpaid since July 2008, said FGHPC in its notice.
Power was restored on Aug. 2 last year after a series of negotiations between FGHPC and the provincial government, with the help of the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo.
To date, FGHPC said, Pames has paid only P28 million of the total P80-million debt by offsetting real property taxes that FGHPC is supposed to pay the municipal government for the hydropower facility.
Pames, the FGHPC notice said, still owes FGHPC a balance of more than P52 million.
“FGHPC has continuously been supplying power to Pames since December 2006 despite the expiry of the power supply agreement in December 2008 primarily out of great concern for the welfare of Pantabangan residents and other Pames consumers,” said the FGHPC notice.
“We have been trying to hold off on the decision to cut off power supply to Pames but we cannot afford to delay this action anymore, as we also have a responsibility to keep our operations viable, considering that FGHPC also supplies power to two other electric cooperatives, a government agency and an industrial customer,” FGHPC said.
“We trust that the residents of Pantabangan will understand our decision. We are, in the meantime, exploring various options as to how we can assist in providing temporary electrical supply to critical institutions, such as the public schools in Pantabangan,” it said.