THE Department of Energy (DoE) could take over the operations of the controversial utility firm Panay Electric Co. (PECO) if it refuses to turn over its distribution facilities to the new company More Electric Power Corp.
More Power is on the brink of getting a congressional franchise from Congress to distribute electricity in Iloilo City once PECO’s franchise expires on January 18, 2019.
Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said the DoE has formed a task force with the National Electrification Administration (NEA) to take over PECO’s facilities and operations in case the company refuses to implement a transition plan envisioned in the franchise bill that will authorize More Power to distribute electricity in Iloilo City.
“We are prepared to take over in case, to ensure there is no disruption of service. DoE and NEA. We organized a task force to take over in case there will be no settlement in the issue,” said Cusi.
However, Cusi said he would prefer that PECO and More Power to reach an agreement on a smooth transition plan that would not disrupt electricity service in Iloilo City.
“That’s what we’d like to see if both parties agree to submit their transition plan to ensure that there will be no interruption of service,” the DoE chief said.
However, Cusi gave assurances that “in case they cannot agree, the government, DoE will take over, as a holdover, to ensure there will be no disruption (of electricity service).”
The Senate version of More Power’s franchise bill would give PECO a temporary Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) for one year to continue operations while turning over full operations to More Power.
PECO had come under criticism following the alleged statement of its legal counsel, Atty. Inocencio Ferrer, that the company will shut down and plunge Iloilo City into a citywide power blackout when the company’s franchise expires on January 18 next year.
Ferrer allegedly said Iloilo City residents have no one to blame but the House of Representatives and the Senate for granting the legislative franchise to More Power instead of granting the franchise renewal application of PECO.
This is contrary to the purported promise of PECO Chair Luis Miguel Cacho that PECO will continue to serve Iloilo City residents.