By Rhaydz B. Barcia and Connie B. Destura
LEGAZPI CITY, 31July2013 – Let there be light! And then there was light.
True to the promise of Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla that the power connection to the Albay Electric Cooperative will be restored at 5 p.m. Wednesday as announced by Legazpi City Mayor Noel E. Rosal an hour earlier, Albayanos bade the setting sun with gladness as they welcomed back the lights around them.
At about 4:15 p.m. Wednesday, Rosal, president of the Albay Mayors League, told the PNA that Petilla had promised to restore power connection to the province of Albay at 5 p.m. today.
“I’m glad the good secretary made good his promise,” he said.
At 12 noon Tuesday, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines cut off Aleco’s power supply for to its failure to settle its obligations with various power providers, especially the Philippine Electricity Market Corp.
Aleco still owes PEMC P39 million in remaining balance of the P56 million bill for June.
In an effort to bring back power in Albay, the center of trade and seat of government in the Bicol region, the Albay Mayors League and the three congressmen in the province have worked together to settle the obligation.
In a statement in Manila Wednesday, Petilla said there was an emergency meeting held during the day among executives from the DOE, PEMC, National Electrification Administration and the Philippine Independent Power Producers Association for the restoration of power to Aleco.
On the request of Petilla, echoing the request of the Albay officials, for the reconnection of Aleco, the PIPPA and PEMC obliged “on the heels of Aleco’s compliance to disconnect their top 100 delinquent accounts.”
Petilla also mentioned that the request for reconnection was supported by the province’s League of Mayors, through Rosal, on the promise to pay the electric cooperative’s P39 million obligations for June within three to five days.
“However, it was stressed in the emergency meeting that on top of the June 2013 obligations, the cooperative would also have to settle the incoming July consumption billing by August 1, 2013, apart from their outstanding P1 billion debt to PEMC,” Petilla was quoted as saying.
Rosal met on Wednesday morning with Aleco project supervisor Veronica Briones at her office where he handed over a letter signed by him and Gonzalez appealing to the NEA to facilitate the release of a loan amounting to P36 million to Aleco, which will be used to pay for the balance of the current billing from PEMC covering the period May 26 to June 25.
As Rosal was having a meeting with Briones, Petilla called him up and the two officials discussed the possible restoration of energy supply in Albay.
Briones, for her part, said she would endorse the letter to NEA and DOE officials, thus, would appeal through a board resolution that Aleco will pay the standing P39 million balances anytime to fast track the reconnection of power in Albay.
The province-wide blackout affected some 160,000 households in the province.
It angered members of the business community, saying that they incurred some P55 million losses in terms of overhead expenses for the past 24 hours.
To date, Aleco has about P4 billion debt to several entities that include the PEMC, NEA and the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp.
It owes PSALM P2.026 billion with an interest rate of 8.73 percent per annum; PEMC, P1.2 billion with an interest rate of 2.7 percent; Transco, P140 million with 9 percent interest rate; NEA, P220 million with 8 percent interest; and NGCP, P56 million with 9.8 interest rate per annum.(PNA)