AN appeal filed by the old Iloilo City utility Panay Electric Co. (PECO) with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to get back its Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) and allow it to operate anew as the city’s distribution utility has no legal basis, according to a former lawmaker.
Ex-Paranaque Rep. Gus Tambunting said the supplemental motion for reconsideration filed by PECO with the ERC last May 22 wherein it asked that it be given back its operational permit due to the alleged technical incompetence of More Electric and Power Corp(MORE Power) cannot be granted by the commission as it has no basis.
Tambunting, former Vice Chairman of the House Committee on Legislative Franchises, said that even if PECO’s operational permit will be granted, it no longer has a legislative franchise.
He said PECO’s allegations of high incidence of power outages in the city under MORE Power cannot be used or invoked to allow it to get back its CPCN.
Tambunting said MORE Power has the legislative franchise granted by Congress and approved by Malacanang and it is the only legitimate distribution utility that can operate in Iloilo.
“MORE Power is the one with the franchise. MORE is free to ask the help of PECO if it sees fit but that would be have to be decided by MORE,” Tambunting said, stressing that PECO cannot insist on what it wants because its service to Ilonggos has ended.
Tambunting is one of the many lawmakers who supported the decision to remove the franchise of PECO due to the numerous complaints and evidence regarding its failure to provide adequate, reliable and affordable electricity to Iloilo City.
Consumers from Iloilo City also swamped Congress with complaints against PECO for the thousands of incidents of fire involving PECO’s rotting electricity poles, overbilling and poor customer service.
Meanwhile, MORE Power president and CEO Roel Castro slammed PECO for claiming that the new power distributor has no technical competence to operate and manage the distribution facility of Iloilo City, saying it has enough technical people with vast experience in running the Iloilo City electricity distribution network under its employ.
Castro said that in fact, 70 of the 142 employees of MORE Power are from the technical team of PECO hired from service providers hired by PECO so it has no contractual obligations with its workers.
“There’s no point of saying that MORE has no technical knowledge to run a power company. The management and resources may have changed but we have the same technical people and engineers manning the whole system,” said Castro.
He pointed out that if MORE Power was not technically competent its technical repair teams would not have set the shortest average response time to consumer complaints of one hour and 30 minutes compared to PECO which usually took more than a day or even weeks to respond to consumer complaints.