ILOILO City residents yesterday denounced the Panay Electric Company’s (PECO) threat to shut down its operations on January 19, 2019 if the firm’s franchise is not renewed by Congress.
The residents were reacting to the reported warning of PECO legal counsel Atty. Inocencio Ferrer that the House of Representatives and the Senate should be blamed in case a possible citywide blackout erupts as an offshoot of Congress’ failure to renew their franchise.
They said PECO officials should have modernized the company during their 95 years of operation amid alleged complaints on the need to improve their services.
While PECO’s application for the renewal of its franchise is still pending at the House Committee on Legislative Franchises, the House of Representatives and the Senate awarded MORE Power and Electric Company a legislative franchise to operate a distribution utility for Iloilo City.
During the a hearing of the Senate Committee on Public Services chaired by Sen. Grace Poe it was learned that PECO allegedly did not renew its franchise after its 25-year legislative franchise granted in 1968 through Republic Act (RA) No. 5360 expired in 1994.
According to Sen. Francis Escudero, PECO’s franchise was administratively extended by the National Electrification Commission (NEC) for another 25 years from 1994 to June 19, 2019. PECO vehemently denied that it lacks franchise to operate.
The Department of Energy (DoE) has expressed confidence that the new player will be able to continue the operations of PECO in case the latter failed to renew its franchise.
The DoE and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) also gave assurances that there would be a smooth transition of operations.
Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said the DoE is looking for all possible options to avoid a citywide blackout when PECO’s franchise expires on January 19, 2019, which is being backed by Atty. Gregorio Ofalsa, officer-in-charge of ERC’s Consumers Affairs Service.
Last Nov 8, 2018, it was learned that the Senate panel created a Technical Working Group to handle the transition plan between PECO and MORE.