Iloilo City council to probe brownouts after new firm took over
ILOILO CITY –– The Iloilo City council will investigate repeated and prolonged brownouts a few months after a company owned by business tycoon Enrique Razon Jr. took over the city’s electric distribution system.
Several councilors lamented during the council’s regular session on June 23 that there should be stable power supply under the More Power Electric Corp. (More Power) amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced residents to stay in their homes.
They also pointed out the impact of the brownouts on the economy, which is already reeling with months of community quarantine measures.
Many residents have also ranted over social media on the brownouts, including an 11-hour power interruption last weekend.
Irate consumers complained about not getting sleep due to the lack of electricity.
Several residents said the brownouts were worse than those they experienced under the Panay Electric Power Company (Peco).
Aside from the unscheduled power interruptions, More Power has been implementing 13-hour brownouts in areas in the city which they said are part of the rehabilitation and upgrading of facilities and distribution lines.
In an earlier interview, More Power President Roel Castro said they were
investigating the incident but described it as “unusual” because several “faults” or abnormalities in the electric current occurred successively in the same feeder.
“We don’t normally experience that many faults at the same time in the same feeder,” Castro told the INQUIRER.
But while he said they suspected that some of the distribution lines or transformers could have been tampered with, there was still no proof that their system was sabotaged.
“We cannot monitor the entire system because a large portion is exposed and open to anyone,” he said.
He also blamed the “dilapidated” facilities that it took over from Peco.
But Peco refuted Castro’s explanation, blaming the outages on the “incompetence” of the new power distribution firm.
“Tens of thousands of households have been affected by outages since (More Power) took over in February,” Marcel Cacho, PECO public engagement and government affairs head, said.
Cacho said the outages “could have been prevented or at least reduced if those at (More Power) knew what they are doing.”
More Power took over the city’s distribution system operated by Peco after the Iloilo City Regional Trial Court issued a writ of possession in favor of More Power.
The writ of possession was issued after More Power filed last year an expropriation complaint against Peco, which has been operating in Iloilo City for 96 years.
Republic Act 11212 signed by President Duterte on February 14, 2019, granted More Power a 25-year franchise to distribute electricity in Iloilo City. The franchise law included controversial provisions that granted expropriation rights to More Power.