ECs must improve services in the face of private franchises

BAGUIO CITY – A bill seeking to grant to the son of Senator Loren Legarda a franchise to operate “Solar Para Sa Bayan” has sent jitters among electric cooperatives in the country who believe such move would undermine their viability as power distributors.

Worried over the debilitating impact of such move, the Philippine rural Electric Cooperatives Association, Inc. (Philreca) came up with a signature campaign opposing the move to grant Leandro Leviste the franchise.

“We say no to preferential treatment , we say no to underhanded maneuvers in the renewable energy and rural electrification sector”, the Philreca said in a statement.

Responding, general manager Gerardo Verzosa of the Benguet Electric Cooperative said “ our position is that should Solar Para Sa Bayan or a Qualified Third Party (QTP) offer cheaper rates of electricity, then by all means the electric cooperatives must not be repugnant (to the proposal). The electric cooperatives must not deny their consumers the opportunity to avail of cheaper power should there be one available. This is why the ECs must also up the ante of their performance so that they could compete with Solar Para Sa Bayan or any Department of Energy-authorized QTP.”

Such bill should spur electric cooperatives to improve their over-all service and make them competitive in terms of management, services and charges to ensure patronage by consumes.

In a response to columnist Boo Chanco who discussed the impact of the bill to electric cooperatives, Verzosa pointed out that “Beneco is proud to announce that among the country’s electric cooperatives, it has remained steadfast in its bid to provided cheap electricity and efficient service to the member-consumers even to far-flung sitios.”

Despite operating on a mountainous terrain, Beneco has registered generation costs and average residential rates per kilowatt-hour comparable to that of Meralco.

For 2016, Beneco’s average generation cost was P3.3304 compared to P3.9438 for Meralco. Beneco’s average residential rate per KWH runs between P7.1292 to P8.0883 compared to Meralco’s P8.4995 to P10.2707.

Beneco’s performance is reflected in its  having garnered seven awards, the most by any electric cooperative, during the last national convention.

Among the citations was the cooperative’s having pulled down its systems loss to 8.07 percent, translated to savings amounting to millions of pesos.

By Ramon Dacawi

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