ILONGGOS do not want to go back to the “dark ages,” the period when the former power distributor Panay Electric Co. (PECO) was still operating in the city and brownouts were an ordinary everyday occurence.
The special report of the Publishers Association of the Philippines Inc (PAPI) on the status of the power supply in Iloilo City (http://www.papi.com.ph/wp/all-the-fuss-about-peco-and-whats-more-with-more-power/) identified the reasons for the collapse of the controversial 96- year management of PECO and not only its consumers but also the local officials finally rejected its service and asked Congress and the Energy Regulatory Commission(ERC) to replace their power supplier.
“PECO, for much of its last years as the city’s electric power distribution utility, had become synonymous to the phrase ‘technical incompetence’ following years of unexplained and prolonged power interruptions that for a while had actually threatened the economic viability of Iloilo City turning off investors instead of attracting them. PECO’s service, at least in its last few years, was nothing but a complete mess,” the PAPI report stated.
ERC referred to the operational lapses of PECO including defective or inefficient protective devices, unsafe electric posts, overheating substations, failure to upgrade their distribution system for many years and simply guessing the meter reading which resulted to the P631 million refund to consumers which paved the way for the revocation of PECO’s franchise and its business permit.
PECO earlier claimed that there are more incidents of brownouts and higher system loss under More Power.
According to PAPI’s report, there is no basis to the accusations of PECO against More Power because the former distributor was using sub-standard systems, which More Power is now trying to fix, thus the need for scheduled power interruptions.
PAPI also commended More Power for gaining the support of the community which was evident during the management of PECO.
“Various sectors of the Iloilo City community express its full backing to More Power, with all of them saying the new power distributor is on the right track,” said the report.
Meanwhile, some business and church leaders in Iloilo City are hopeful that “life is bright” now that PECO is no longer operating and they are holding on to the commitment of More Power of better and improved service.
“From the standpoint of being a consumer myself, I ask everyone to bear with the situation and have a little more patience. MORE cannot do miracles, like instantly solving the woes we had experienced for decades under PECO. Its only fair that we allow More to prove its worth,” said Msgr Meliton Oso, head of Jaro Archdiocese Social Action Center.
The Institute of Integrated Electrical Engineers of the Philippines (IIEE) is also opposing any attempt to bring back PECO to Iloilo City because the new power distributor has the capability to address the needs of the city.
PAPI said PECO’s distribution infrastructure was underfunded for many years which is the main reason for the electricity problems in Iloilo City.
PAPI said that if PECO cannot handle the needs of the city, it should give way to More Power, which Congress believes has the capability to roll out the development plan for the entire power system of Iloilo City.
It said the issues involving More Power and PECO is not a simple matter because it involves electricity, the lifeblood and crucial tool for the city’s socio- economic development.