No power interruption, Panay electric firm assures Ilonggos amid franchise expiration
With two days before its 25-year franchise set to expire, the Panay Electric Company (Peco) has assured Ilonggos of continued and uninterrupted power supply in Iloilo City amid the holding of the world-famous Dinagyang Festival.
“We made a commitment to the city that there will be no power interruption. We will abide by that commitment,” Peco corporate communications officer MIkel Afzelius told the INQUIRER on Wednesday.
Afzelius said Peco would continue to operate despite its expiration on January 18 under a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) which is valid until May this year.
The CPCN is the authority granted by government agencies, including the Energy Regulatory Commission, as a permit to operate public utilities.
Peco’s application for a renewal of its franchise has been stalled at the House committee on legislative franchises since it was filed on July 31, 2017.
But a bill granting a 25-year franchise to the Razon-controlled More Power company was passed swiftly in the House taking only 12 calendar days after it was filed on September 26, 2018.
It was subsequently passed in the Senate and a bicameral committee in December and will become a law when President Duterte signs it or after 30 days after transmittal to the President.
More is a new company that has no track record of power distribution.
Peco is the city’s lone power distributor, which supplies electricity to 55,000 consumers, including residences and offices.
Owned by the Cacho family, Peco has been operating in the city since 1923.
In an earlier interview, More Power president Roel Castro said they were ready to take over power distribution in the city when the franchise is granted.
He said the company planned to invest P700 million for a three-year rehabilitation program to upgrade the assets of Peco. More Power is also ready to acquire the assets of Peco.
Afzelius said Peco would continue to push for the renewal of their franchise even in the next Congress after the May 2019 elections, if the present bill will not be enacted.
If the bill granting the franchise to More Power becomes a law, Peco will exhaust all legal remedies to block the expropriation of their assets.
“More Power is welcome to put up their own facilities and assets. But we will not give up our assets and facilities as there is no agreement (between the two companies) on our selling of these assets,” he said.
The bill passed by the Senate and House provides for a two-year transition period in which More Power can establish or acquire its distribution system.
During the transition period, Peco will be granted provisional authority to operate until the full take over of More Power.
Hundreds of thousands of tourists and revelers are expected to be in the city next week for the annual Dinagyang Festival.
Iloilo City Mayor Jose Espinosa III said he has been assured by the two companies that the expiration of the franchise would not result to power supply interruptions.
He said the city also has contingency measures. /lzb
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