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Albay power firm to run after households with defective meters, illegal connections

By Mar S. Arguelles LEGAZPI CITY --- The Albay Power Energy Corporation (APEC) is closely checking some 90,000 houses across the province with either defective meters or illegal power connection, a ranking APEC official disclosed yesterday (Wednesday). Ed Piamonte, APEC branch manager, said the company has launched a power clean-up drive to address electricity pilferage that resulted in multi-million pesos in financial losses. Piamonte said, it has recently formed Task Force Clean-up aimed at looking into various electricity problems confronting the power firm’s operations. Piamonte in a media briefing said power pilferages, defective power meters, and illegal connections are among the major concerns that the task force is currently closely watching. He said the task force would also be addressing the problems on power interruptions or brownouts caused by bad weather, vegetation affecting transmission lines, defective insulators, and transformers, and old distribution lines. It will also conduct inventory and inspection of about 90,000 households across Albay province that are suspected to have defective meters, illegal connections, and unpaid consumer bills. So far, he said, the task force has inspected and inventoried some 43,000 households with defective meters in the third district of the province covering the towns of Polangui, Libon, Pioduran, Jovellar, Oas, Guinobatan, and Ligao City. Piamonte claimed the task force, as of date, had pinpointed 41 household consumers with illegal power connection, the pilferage accounting for some 50,000 kilowatt hours, at an equivalent amount of P950,000 in recovery losses. On Tuesday this week, the clean-up drive started in the second district of Albay covering 12,000 households in the towns of Daraga, Manito, Rapu-rapu, and this city. Next to be inventoried and undergo inspection are 35,000 households in the towns of Sto. Domingo, Bacacay, Malilipot, Malinao, Tiwi and Tabaco City in the first district of Albay. While APEC collection efficiency has improved by 90 percent, the power firm is still saddled with a high systems losses at 25 percent, compared to the allowable 13 percent, according to Piamonte. Meanwhile, APEC a subsidiary of San Miguel Corporation (SMC), has asked the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to allow them to borrow from SMC Holdings P1.8B to finance their capital expenditure (Capex). The fund for Capex to be loaned is intended to improve power services and repair and rehabilitation, according APEC spokesperson Patria Gutierrez. APEC took control over the cash-strapped Albay Electric Cooperative (ALECO) in 2014 through a management contract between the two entities for 25 years.

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