I’ve written a lot about MORE Power‘s sister company, Primelectric Holdings Inc., and their Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) with CENECO. Some people are asking if it’s the best choice. Honestly, I’m not completely sure, but maybe we also need to ask if it will make things worse. I really don’t think it will. So I say Yes for JVA between CENECO and Primelectric.
Say YES to JVA
Undoubtedly, a cooperative structure seems ideal for service-oriented institutions like energy companies. But it depends on where and how big the area it is serving. Do I genuinely believe we don’t have a choice, which is why I’m advocating for a privately owned company to join forces with CENECO? In some ways, yes, but while my stance comes with reservations and other considerations, I still think this is the better option–way better option.
If this private company didn’t have a good history, I’d most likely say no. If I was from Iloilo and remembered when they started, I might have doubts. Yet, Iloilo embraced the risk, and now, they are reaping the rewards.
MORE Power has transformed Iloilo City, demonstrating an unwavering dedication to providing exceptional service to the Ilonggos. Even if they may be profit-driven, I can observe that Iloilo is receiving better service compared to what our CENECO is giving us–which is a cooperative. I want the same service for Bacolod City and Central Negros. (So you see. A distribution utility was not able to give us better service all these years.)
- Related: Navigating the Path to Sustainable Energy: MORE Power’s Dynamic Partnership with ERC and LGU
I looked at some things to decide:
- Company Record: If the company has done well before, it’s a good sign.
- Iloilo Example: Iloilo got better with MORE Power’s help. Our place can too.
- They Care: MORE Power is serious about good service. I want that for us.
- Private Know-How: A private company can have good ideas.
- Inspired by Iloilo: Seeing Iloilo do well makes me want the same here.
The Current Situation: A Looming Crisis
I haven’t noticed any improvement in CENECO’s performance over the past few months. It appears that the reliability of the power they provide is actually declining. Despite this, the power rates we are charged remain among the highest in the country. The reasons for this are as follows.
The current state of CENECO paints a concerning picture:
- Mounting Debt: Debts surpassing 600 Million pesos to multiple entities, including the National Electrification Administration and banks.
- Stagnation in Investment: With a lack of funds comes the absence of investment in modernization and upgrades. Since 2011, CENECO has not spent on modernization.
- Outdated Infrastructure: Aging equipment, overloaded substations, and inaccurate meter readings mar the distribution system. Not to mention broken utility poles, and tangled power lines have become the norm.
- Financial Drain: A monthly loss nearing 20 Million pesos due to high system loss reaching 11%.
- Looming Expiry: CENECO’s franchise is due to expire in 2030.
A Lifeline: Primelectric/Negros Power
However, the solution is within reach through Primelectric/Negros Power:
- Financial Rejuvenation: A cash injection of 1.7 Billion pesos from Primelectric to settle debts. (Including the bill deposit refunds for the consumers.)
- Infrastructure Enhancement: A comprehensive investment plan to overhaul distribution facilities. This will not come from the 1.7 Billion pesos mentioned above. This means, Negros Power will shell out more money to upgrade and modernize infrastructure.
- Modernization Blueprint: A 5-year strategy to amplify capacities, replace wooden poles, upgrade power lines, and deploy digital meters for better service and fewer disruptions.
- Reduced Losses: System losses will be trimmed to a minimum. The Energy Regulatory Commission’s stipulated limit is 5.5%. This will result in lower power rates for us consumers.
- Shared Vision: Negros Power will aspire for a franchise in Congress. Should the franchise be renewed or granted to Negros Power, CENECO will remain holding a 30% share in ownership.
A Brighter CENECO Future: Better Service and Less Cost
To put it simply, if we say YES to JVA we will get better service with more stable electricity, and lower power rates. We need to join the vote on August 19, 20, 26, 27, September 2, and 3, 2023, at the schools designated for the plebiscite. (See attached list of voting precincts.)
Can’t Make It? Your Voice Still Counts!
For those unable to attend the plebiscite, you can still help. Appoint a proxy to represent your stance by completing a proxy form at the CENECO JVA booth at various locations,
- Ayala Mall
- Robinson’s Mall Mandalagan
- City Mall Mandalagan
- SM City Mall
- Gaisano Mall
- 888 Mall
- Bacolod Old City Hall
- Bacolod New Government Center
By saying YES, we’re choosing a future with better electricity at lower rates. Let’s make CENECO better, together!