PSALM lists power firms with billions worth of ‘problematic’ overdue accounts
MANILA, Philippines – The Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) on Friday drew attention to the power firms with the biggest overdue accounts in its records, noting that Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative (Lasureco) tops the list with about P13 billion worth of debt.
Olongapo City’s Public Utilities Department follows behind at P7.2 billion, then Picop Resources Inc. at P3.3 billion, Maguindanao Electric Cooperative at around P3.3 billion, Albay Electric Cooperative at P3.1 billion, Global Siloworks Inc. at P1.9 billion, and Pampanga Electric Cooperative at P1.5 billion.
PSALM President and chief executive officer Dennis de la Serna bared this list of “problematic accounts” during the Senate finance subcommittee hearing on the proposed P167.520-billion budget of the state-run corporation for next year.
“From what I understand, they refuse to pay for the electric energy that they consume coming from PSALM, National Power Corporation (Napocor) power plants in Mindanao,” he said, referring to the incurred debt of Lasureco.
De la Serna added: “They actually have a direct connection to one of our plants which is Agus 1 and based on their consumption, they have refused to pay. The reasons for that are numerous. There’s a lack of installation of kilowatt meters in the area.”
Senator Robin Padilla then inquired if Lasureco’s unpaid account will result in power disconnections in its area of coverage.
“We’ve tried and we’ve sent notices of disconnection but those have not been implemented,” De la Serna answered.
He added that PSALM has been working with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Barmm) and the National Electrification Administration (Nea) for assistance in dealing with this matter.
“We’ve tried to enter into special payment arrangements but again, those special payment arrangements have not been met. The conditions of those have not been met,” the PSALM chief lamented.
He later spelled out their eyed solutions for this, saying that the payment may either be absorbed by the national government – through the Nea, or the Barmm.
If the latter is pursued, De la Serna pointed out that the operations of Lasureco will likewise be taken over by the Barmm.
Padilla also inquired about the possibility of PSALM letting the electric cooperative off the hook instead.
Citing the Electric Power Industry Reform Act, De la Serna said there are provisions on the condonation of loans which covers certain power firms, but he reiterated that Lasureco’s debt has already ballooned up to P13 billion.
“May na-condone na po na mga obligation dati, I think, nag-condone pa kami ng loans in 2009, if I’m not mistaken. Tapos naulit lang. Lumaki lang nang lumaki ulit po iyong utang po,” he further explained.
(We have condoned obligations before, I think. We condoned loans in 2009, if I’m not mistaken. And then, it has happened again. The debt just ballooned.)
De la Serna said condoning the loans is only one of the possible solutions for this matter.
“We’ve tried, multiple times, to send special payment arrangements, deferred payments, stretching the payments out longer to ensure that they pay at least 10 percent of the bill or 25 percent of the bill, but this is not sustainable […] Their payments are inconsistent,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.
Aside from this, De la Serna also revealed that the outstanding debt of PSALM, inherited from Napocor, amounts to P355.9 billion as of June 2022. Trisha Manalaysay, INQUIRER.net trainee
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