EDITORIAL: Sense of Foreboding
The continuing hardship confronting power users in Albay province caused by the impasse due to the unanimous resolution during the general assembly seeking to retake control and franchise from the Albay Power and Energy Corporation (APEC) back to Albay Electric Cooperative (ALECO) in terms of power consumption should serve as a timely message to other electric cooperatives facing the prospect of being taken over by a privately controlled or owned corporations—as prospective franchise holders.
For sure the current impasse between the power users and APEC will take time to arrive at a workable arrangement particularly about the claims for reimbursements and for assumptions of loans obtained.
APEC through its general manager, even had the temerity in claiming that Albay had not been deprived of power supply for the past eight years—a claim that is certainly improbable. To put it bluntly, APEC’s reaction is like that of a spurned lover, mixed with ill feelings.
But the possibility of black-outs in Albay for failure of electric users to pay their consumption on time is real. Albayanos must have learned lessons from their precipitate move to shift to APEC the privilege of being the concessionaire in providing the opportunity to procure power supply for their own account.
History is filled with accounts about the failure of private franchise holders in supplying electricity. For this reason, electric cooperatives had to be organized and takeover the franchises of private establishments to offer a better service. But as things turned out electric cooperatives had been a dismal failure.
Almost without exception, electric cooperatives had been directly or indirectly under the control of politicians in power. As a consequence, those who worked as directors served under the dictate and direction of those in firm political control.
As a further consequence, electric cooperatives have become fronts of those in power to provide employment to their followers and therefore electric coops have been converted into employment agencies and sometimes as dumping areas of followers in need of jobs.
The most dreadful practice by those running the activities of the power cooperatives, is when they enjoy the perks and privileges for their own caprices.
They have found ways and means to enjoy certain privileges, the likes of their idol politicians. It is no wonder then that many of the electric cooperative are facing the prospect of disintegration.
But what is the guarantee that privately owned or controlled corporations would be better of? The lessons of the past are too fresh to forget. The disenchanting performance of APEC may have signaled a sense of foreboding. The performance of electric cooperatives is of lesser evil.
Otherwise it might be a case of from the frying pan into the fire. Electric cooperatives may be not functioning the ideal way. However private establishments especially those whose control belongs to people without any established knowhow in operating a franchise to provide light and power might turn out to be a mirage.
The primary role of electric cooperatives is to pursue rural electrification. Something that private entities cannot provide because of profit motive.