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Gov. Lagman: Albay power back on track

By Jun de Leoz


AFTER a shaky transition from the Albay Power and Energy Corporation (APEC), the erstwhile management concessionaire of the Albay Electric Cooperative (ALECO), the province’s power is back on track.


This was made possible through the efforts of the National Electrification Administration (NEA), ALECO, the local chief executive of the provincial government of Albay (PGA) and the San Miguel Energy Corporation (SMEC).


In a press conference held over the weekend at the Governor’s Guest House, Governor Edcel “Grex” Lagman revealed that Albay’s continuous supply of power is assured in the next 12 months because of the efforts of the abovementioned agencies through an Emergency Power Supply Agreement (EPSA).


ALECO Acting General Manager Engr. Wilfredo Bucsit assured Albayanos of the viability of ALECO’s operations in the coming months.


Bucsit confirmed that the guaranteed and continuous supply of electricity has buoyed up the spirit of Albayano consumers. Starting 3 January 2023, there was a welcome spike in the number of consumers who have recently started diligently paying their current electric bills to ALECO.


Bucsit who admitted that ALECO is an ailing cooperative with “stage three cancer” could still recover and be a viable electric cooperative again.


Governor Lagman also said that the PGA has already readied disbursement vouchers for the payment of its 1.7 million electric arrearages.


He wants the PGA to take the lead in paying ALECO so that the other 18 LGUs will follow suit. He expects the PGA to pay said arrears within next week.


Governor Lagman also disclosed that P68M in local funds are available to construct at least 2 electric substations that will reduce the transmission losses of ALECO.


Once said losses are lowered, the electricity rates will also be reduced as this is passed on to consumers.


To recall, ALECO had a concession agreement with APEC but the same was terminated when former Governor Rosal actively initiated the convening of a Special Annual General Membership Assembly on 3 September 2022. This paved the way for the ALECO to fully manage and operate the purchase and distribution of electricity to the whole Province starting 25 December 2022.


However, there was no power supplier willing to help ALECO. Hence, no power supply agreement was in the offing as there were zero takers.


Left without a power supplier, Rosal still continued to raise the hopes of Albayanos in October 2022 telling them not to worry as he assured that NEA was willing to shell out P200-M to pay the debts of ALECO and claimed that the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) and/or Aboitiz will supply electricity to ALECO.


The former Governor even went as far as announcing that the PGA will bail out ALECO to the tune of P200-M using local public funds.


Faced with the looming energy crisis owing to its indebtedness to Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) and Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines (IEMOP) as well as the absence of any power supply agreement, ALECO issued a statement that it sees massive power outages starting 25 December 2022, Christmas Day, when it fully takes control.


In the press conference, Engr. Bucsit debunked Rosal’s claim that NEA will bail out ALECO in the amount of P200-M. He also stated that NEA can only loan a maximum of P50-M to ALECO but it was not legally allowed to subsidize it.


GM Romeo Acuesta corroborated Bucsit’s statement that Rosal’s claim that the PGA can use its funds to bail out ALECO in the amount of P200-M is legally untenable because LGUs cannot use public funds to subsidize or loan to an electric cooperative.


The foregoing prompted Governor Lagman to support the negotiations of NEA Administrator Antonio Mariano Almeda with San Miguel’s Ramon S. Ang.


Ang acceded to Almeda’s appeals for him to help start the process of securing an EPSA between SMEC and ALECO.


Despite previous troubles between Albayanos and APEC, Ang agreed to shell out P500-M to pay ALECO’s supplier and has granted an Emergency Power Supply Agreement to ALECO in the next 12 months.


Governor Lagman ended the press conference by committing his full support to the management team headed by Bucsit to ALECO’s clearing operations starting on January 18 until January 31 by providing at least three (3) dump trucks for said effort.


Lagman also promised the support of the PNP and the AFP in ALECO’s campaign to eradicate illegal connections and electricity pilferage.


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