By Alfredo L. Vargas Jr.
LEGAZPI CITY (9-Nov-2012/PNA) – At least five big load consumers in this city were apprehended in violation of Republic Act No. 7832 or the Anti-Electricity and Electric Transmission Lines/Materials Pilferage Act of 1994 in the first two-days of massive anti-pilferage drive by the Albay Electric Cooperative (Aleco) starting Tuesday.
Initial computations of their combined differential billings amounted to P16 million and after their electric meters corrected, Aleco officials are optimistic they can collect from the five establishments additional P700,000 monthly.
Representatives from Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), National Electrification Administration (NEA) National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Albay district office and members of the city police joined the anti-pilferage teams of Aleco in simultaneous surprise inspection of metering devices and electrical connections of Pepperland Hotel, Hotel Casablanca and Defedbac Corporation and two other establishments in this city long suspected of power theft.
As of October this year, Aleco reported an average systems loss of 26 percent or an amount of not less than P40 million a month.
In a recent press conference the NEA-detailed project management team to Aleco swore to run after power theft through illegal connections and tampering of meters across mainland Albay with emphasis on big load users.
Newly-installed Aleco General Manager Rey Reverente revealed there are more than 3,000 big load consumers in mainland Albay and the recent apprehension of the five violators is a proof the cooperative can turn around from being debt-ridden and does not need private capital infusion or be under privatization.
NEA-installed project management supervisor Lawyer Vicky Briones revealed Aleco has long been losing not less than 7 million kilowatt-hours a month to technical systems loss and power pilferage.
Prior to the onset of massive anti-pilferage drive, Aleco and NEA were able to impose differential billings of over P200,000 each on at least two big load users, Embarcadero De Legazpi and Liberty Commercial Center (LCC Malls) who are both under direct distribution line from the National Power Corporation (Napocor).
Although power supply does not pass Aleco distribution lines, it was discovered that the two establishments acted as power distributor when it supplied power to its sister companies that are from two to ten kilometers away from the main office that is directly connected to Napocor.
Defedbac Corporation is a sister company of Embarcadero De Legazpi, both owned by the family of Ako Bikol party list Rep. Christopher Co while Pepperland Hotel is owned by the family of Albay 2nd District Rep. Al Francis Bichara.
Hotel Casablanca is owned and managed by the Lee family while LCC Malls by the Tabaco City-based Tan family. Antonio Tan, the eldest among the owners of LCC Malls is a member of the present Aleco Interim Board who reportedly voluntarily submitted his establishment for evaluation and correction of metering devices. (PNA)