Iloilo court lets Peco workers operate substations while More trains people
ILOILO CITY—The two rival power distribution firms in the city continued to lash at each other, fighting over the interpretation of a court ruling on Friday (March 6) directing them to heed an earlier order tasking one company with operating power substations and the other with overseeing the substations.
The Iloilo Regional Trial Court (RTC) directed power distributors More Power Electric Corp. (More Power) and Panay Electric Co. (Peco) to heed a previous ruling assigning to Peco the operation of substations and to More Power the task of overseeing these.
But the order issued by Judge Emerald Requina-Contreras, of the Iloilo City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 23, drew opposing interpretations by the companies’ lawyers.
More Power legal counsel Hector Teodosio said his company would not give up control of substations in compliance with the court order.
Lawyer Estrella Elamparo, Peco legal counsel, said her client must control the substations until the next hearing on March 26.
Judge Contreras said the two parties should respect the addendum she issued on Feb. 28 following the issuance of a writ of possession for Peco’s distribution assets.
In the addendum, Contreras listed guidelines in the serving of the writ by court sheriffs.
She said that upon installation, More Power “may deploy their personnel to man and oversee the substations…but the operation should still be handled by Peco personnel who have the technical expertise.”
She said the status quo on the operation of Peco facilities should be maintained to give time for More to train its personnel.
Last Friday, More Power personnel took possession and control of the five substations after these were turned over by court sheriffs.
But in a subsequent order issued on March 2, Contreras directed More Power to “remove all ads pertaining to its full operation” pending the implementation of measures during the transition period.
Contreras said she will summon representatives of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to verify the status of the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) of both More Power and Peco.
In a letter to More Power and Peco, ERC chair and chief executive officer Agnes Devanadera said the ERC had revoked the provisional CPCN issued to Peco after it determined that More Power has “established or acquired its own distribution system.”
A CPCN is the authority granted by government agencies, including the ERC, as a permit to operate public utilities.
The ERC also granted a provisional authority to More Power to operate its distribution network.
Elamparo said she will file a motion for reconsideration at the ERC because its decision was based on the assumption that More Power had full control of distribution assets.
The RTC issued the writ of possession after More Power filed an expropriation complaint on March 11, 2019 against Peco after More Power was granted a 25-year franchise to distribute electricity in Iloilo City and Peco’s bid to renew its franchise failed.
Peco has been operating for 97 years but its franchise expired on Jan. 18, 2019 and was not renewed by Congress.
Edited by TSB
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