By Myrna M. Velasco
Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi has apprised media that the Department of Energy (DOE) and National Electrification Administration (NEA) are now ready to take over Panay Electric Cooperative (PECO) to manage it through transition to its new owner MORE Electric and Power Company of tycoon Enrique Razon Jr.
“We organized a task force in case there will be problem, if there will be no settlement in the issue,” the energy chief stressed.
Razon, for his part, has debunked allegations that his group “does not have qualifications to run an electric company.”
He chided “we certainly never want to have the qualifications of PECO. We are exactly the opposite of PECO because we have a track record of success in start-ups and large-scale projects not only in the Philippines but globally.”
Razon stressed “PECO has become a rent-seeking business run by the family who are multiplying and draining the resources and earnings of PECO through dividends for themselves.”
The business tycoon who is injecting P2.0 billion fresh capital into PECO likewise lamented that “they are a throwback to the hacienderos of lore,” adding that incumbent owners “behave like the franchise is a birth right.”
Razon rapped that “PECO has one of the highest generation charges in the country, and is P2.50 per kilowatt hour higher than in Manila, Cebu and Davao.”
He added that some non-government organizations even claim that “iloilo City’s electricity prices are the highest among 70 countries in the world.”
Razon similarly opined the Iloilo utility firm’s distribution charge has been low, with him qualifying that “this is clear evidence that PECO has not made any meaningful investments in their facilities for decades.”
The billionaire claimed that the power firm’s “distribution lines, transformers and substations are also probably 95 years old.”
He added “as seen throughout Iloilo. PECO has undersized and crowded feeders, leaning poles, disorganized service drops, unsafe clearances of lines, substations and transformers.”
Such, he further stressed, “resulted in frequent power outages and service interruptions,” rendering PECO then to have “extremely poor reliability indices.”