November 22, 2018 at 07:45 pm
Alena Mae S. Flores
Businessman Enrique Razon Jr. on Thursday slammed Panay Electric Co. of the Cacho family for alleged inefficiencies that paved the way for his company, More Electric and Power Corp. (formerly More Minerals Corp.), to apply for the franchise to distribute electricity in Iloilo City.
Razon, the majority shareholder of More through his holding firm, said in a statement Iloilo City residents had suffered from Peco’s “poor services, overcharging of power bills with some reaching more than 1,000 percent, accumulated billings due to erroneous meter readings, technical failures, poor customer service, high electricity rates, constant power interruptions and unexplained charges” for decades.
“If Peco had been doing a good job, we wouldn’t have had the opportunity to apply for this franchise and transform it into a modern, efficient, low cost and state-of-the-art distribution network,” he said.
The Senate public services committee chaired by Senator Grace Poe voted unanimously last month in favor of House Bill No. 8132 granting More the franchise to operate a distribution system in Iloilo City. Peco’s franchise is due to expire on Jan. 19, 2019.
“Four generations of Ilonggos have suffered under Peco. Neither are they heard by Peco, who has not addressed the many pending complaints – numbering 1,800―against it… Clearly, it is time that the Ilonggos are relieved of their misery,” Razon, who also chairs port operator International Container Terminal Services Inc., said.
Razon also rebuffed the claims of Peco that More did not have the qualifications to run an electric company.
“We certainly never want to have the qualifications of Peco. We are exactly the opposite of Peco because we have a track record of success in start-ups and large-scale projects not only in the Philippines but globally,” Razon said.
“Peco has become a rent-seeking business run by the family who are multiplying and draining the resources and earnings of Peco through dividends for themselves. They are a throwback to the hacienderos of lore. They behave like the franchise is a birth right. It is a privilege, not a right,” he said.
Razon also criticized Peco for having one of the highest generation charges in the country, with rates P2.50 per kilowatt-hour higher than in Manila, Cebu and Davao.
“Some NGOs even claim that Iloilo City’s electricity prices are the highest among 70 countries in the world. Yet, Peco has a low distribution charge. This is clear evidence that Peco has not made any meaningful investments in their facilities for decades,” he said.
Razon also pointed at Peco’s old and dilapidated distribution infrastructure which allegedly affected its ability to provide good service to consumers.
“Their distribution lines, transformers and substations are also probably 95 years old. As seen throughout Iloilo, Peco has undersized and crowded feeders, leaning poles, disorganized service drops, unsafe clearances of lines and substations and transformers. These have resulted in frequent power outages and service interruptions,” he said.
Razon also noted Peco’s extremely poor reliability indices such as its system average interruption frequency index of 31.15, which he said was 1,400 percent above the Philippine average of 2.18.