Power supplier faces franchise loss
ILOILO CITY—The city’s lone power supplier faces the loss of its franchise to operate amid protests from consumer groups and the city council over allegedly poor services, erroneous billing and overpricing.
A resolution passed by the council expressed opposition to the franchise extension for Panay Electric Co. (Peco), which has been the lone electricity supplier in the city for decades.
The resolution, authored by Councilor R Leone Gerochi, cited consumer complaints over Peco services.
It came after the filing by Camiguin Rep. Xavier Jesus Romualdo of House Bill No. 6023 in July seeking to extend Peco’s franchise for another 25 years.
The council resolution filed by Gerochi also asked the national government to take over power distribution in the city until a “qualified” distributor comes in.
“Consumers suffer from Peco’s poor services and erroneous and inconsistent meter readings, among others,” the resolution said.
It cited cases of overpricing, as reported by nongovernment groups that filed consumer complaints against Peco.
Gerochi said Peco had yet to pay in full the P631-million refund owed to consumers that was earlier ordered by the Energy Regulatory Commission.
Mikel Afzelius, Peco corporate communications officer, however, said Peco had already addressed the consumers’ complaints.
Afzelius said the complaints cited in the resolution only showed “the passion of consumers in wanting excellent service.”
But Peco was met with protests as its officials made a presentation to the council on Tuesday.
Consumers, led by the group No to Peco Alliance, militant groups and pro-Duterte groups picketed Iloilo City Hall to demand an end to Peco’s franchise.
Afzelius had said rates being charged by Peco to city consumers were competitive with those of other power distributors, refuting claims that Peco’s rates were among the country’s highest.
“For so many years, Ilonggos have suffered under Peco but have had no alternative,” said Elmer Forro, secretary general of the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in Panay. “Power distribution should be under a genuine cooperative or under government control.”
The city council also passed a resolution urging Congress to hold hearings on the renewal of Peco’s franchise in Iloilo City, not in Manila.
Power demand in the city has reached a peak of 110 megawatts and has been increasing by 5 to 10 megawatts yearly since 2014, according to Peco.
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