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HomePRESS RELEASETranscript: Full statement of Bacolod City Mayor Albee Benitez on the JVA...

Transcript: Full statement of Bacolod City Mayor Albee Benitez on the JVA between Central Negros Electric Cooperative and Primelectric

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“SOME PEOPLE DON’T LIKE CHANGE. BUT YOU NEED TO EMBRACE CHANGE IF THE ALTERNATIVE IS DISASTER.” – ELON MUSK.

Before I announced my candidacy for Mayor of Bacolod City, I have pondered and thought hard of my decision. The moving factor was the sentiments of the majority of Bacolodnons pushing for CHANGE as the City was heading nowhere. Again, I stand in the same crossroads where I must choose my first step on which path to lead our people. Though the Joint Venture Agreement is an undertaking of CENECO in its own corporate/co operative capacity and initiative, it is clear to me, however, that this involves public utility services having great implications to the City and to the economic and social well being of its people.

I am aware that the JVA has triggered a public discussion with its pros and cons. Hence, I will not shy away from making a stand on any issue especially on one’s that have tremendous impact on the development of the City.

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Even before having been elected into office, I have already heard our people s frustration over our distribution utility. I have been receiving repetitive complaints about the recurring and unannounced brownouts, high electricity rate, and poor consumer services. This. I have immediately acted on these. In fact, I have sat with both the Management and Board of CENECO on several occasions. I have reviewed its Power Purchase Agreements and made representations with the Energy Regulatory Commission on questioning the price or rate of one of its power suppliers which has resulted to a gradual reduction of its rate from P16.2972/kwh last November 2022 to the present P12.7835/kwh as of June 2023.

It was also revealed to me that CENECO has been operating on a loss for three (3) consecutive years now – 2020, 2021 and 2022. Its accumulated net loss as of December 31 last year is a whopping P674,530,630. This year’s numbers are also not encouraging. As of end of April 2023.1hc losses of CENECO is already P47 Million. What is even alarming is thai its Application with the ERC for additional CAPEX in the amount of Pl .3 Billion for the year 2011 to 2019 is still pending and is expected to drag for years with an uncertain outcome. What is further depressing is that this CAPEX is to be financed with another loan with financing institutions 10 be made by CENECO.

Last February, I was asked by the press if I am amenable to the JVA. My response was anchored on three (3) conditions:

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1) If they can lower the electricity rates;

2) Assure 24/7 Power Supply; and

 3) Convert to renewable power.

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Once these conditions are met, the JVA will have my full support.

Lower Electricity Rate.

From the representation made to me by Mr. Castro, Prime Electric’s mother company is Prime Strategic Holdings Inc. which is also the mother company of More Power Performance wise. More Power has proven to itself by substantially reducing the power rate in Panay Island by at least 30%.

On Generation Charge, I made a categorical statement that the way to lower this is through a renewable power source which is much cheaper. If you look back in the past and examine if we were able to get the best possible terms and price for the POWER PURCHASE AGREEMENTS that CENECO has entered, I would say that we miserably failed because CENECO would not have been in this sorry state if we got the best deal in the electricity market.

 On Systems Loss, CENECO was not able to curb this with its archaic facility and technology. Under ERC Regulation, CENECO at present is charging al 8.25% DSL cap level. However, with the JVA formalized, NEPC could only charge up to 5.5% DSL cap level only, which is upfront 3.25% less on the system loss of the power rates.

The rest of the charges are all pass-on charges.

 Nevertheless. Let us remember that the power distribution sector is the most regulated sector in OUT country. Regulations are in place that power distributors, whether public or private, must make a petition before the ERC to justify the proposed rate increase. The ERC is also mandated to evaluate the petition as well as the petitioner’s performance for proper check and balance. 14cnce, there can be no arbitrary rate increase.

24/7 Power Supply.

 In order for us to have a 24/7 Power Supply, infrastructure, upgrading and development are needed. Prime Electric committed to infuse P2 Billion for its five (5) year development plan. This is something that is concrete and makes sense.

With the City’s aspiration towards being a Super City, having a sustainable and efficient power to provide or meet its demand is highly crucial. It is therefore imperative that our power distribution system in the City should be developed, upgraded and systematically advanced, or else we will be left behind.

Notably, NEPC will be a corporation vested with public interest and there will be a mandatory three (3) independent directors at the Board of Directors, plus the two (2) Board of Directors who will be coming from CENECO regardless of its share ownership. The law (The Revised Corporation Code) and the JVA has safety nets to ensure that there will be no monopoly in its Board Membership by having at least five (5) Board of Directors in an eleven (11) seat Board of Directors not belonging to the majority shareholder.

 The rights of CENECO’s workers will not be neglected as due preference is being given to them in the hiring of employees under the JVA.

With these explanations, I hope the people of Bacolod will understand and support my stand OD the JVA as this is a White Knight that would save our consumers from the looming disaster.

This full support is extended with the assurance that I will remain vigilant in the implementation of the JVA to ensure that its objectives will ultimately be realized.

Madamo gid nga salamat.

 HON. ALFREDO ABELARDO B. BENITEZ

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DNX News Desk
DNX News Desk
Pioneer digital-first news and information source based in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental province. We are committed to providing high-quality journalism to our audience.
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