NCGP defers Albay power cut

LEGAZPI CITY -- The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) has heeded the request of Bishop Joel Baylon of the Diocese of Legazpi to defer the disconnection of power supply to the Albay Electric Cooperative (ALECO), a member of the Aleco Interim Board said Monday.

Augusto Villalon, board spokesperson, said Baylon, who chairs the Aleco board, wrote a letter to NGCP asking for the deferment of the power supply cutoff in Albay supposedly set today (Monday) following an on-going negotiation with the San Miguel Energy Corp. (SMEC), the newly-approved concessionaire of the cooperative.

In his letter-request, Baylon said the board is working out with SMEC to assume Aleco's unpaid bills to NGCP last year amounting to P66 million, under its concession contract agreement with the Aleco board, while the latter is also working out for the settlement of P33 million representing the current bill.

Villalon said in an interview that the Aleco management has paid NGCP P6.5 million as initial payment for its current account.

He said the P66 million power bills it owes NGCP are for the months of October to December wherein these accounts should be settled by SMEC following the signing of the concession contract agreement on Oct. 29 last year.

Under the concession contract agreement, SMEC reportedly will assume all outstanding bills incurred by Aleco.

SMEC was the lone bidder for a concession contract agreement which, after the referendum, allows it to take over the operation of the cooperative for the next 25 years.

The takeover of SMEC has been strongly opposed by the Aleco Employees Union and the Aleco Multi-sectoral Stakeholders Organization (AMSSO), prompting them stage a four-month strike.

The labor strike had totally paralyzed Aleco operations for four months, seriously affecting its billing and collection activities that hampered the payments of bills to its power suppliers.

Villalon said the Aleco management could have settled the account had it not been for the labor strike mounted by the cooperative employees' union. SMEC deferred its scheduled assumption of Aleco management on Jan, 7 due to the labor strike.

In a letter, Ellen Go, SMC Global Power general manager, said ”it will defer its assumption until such time that we receive sufficient guarantees which will ensure our peaceful, continuous and uninterrupted possession of the distribution system, which is one of the obligations of Aleco under the concession agreement.”

Aside from the power bills it owes from NGCP, Aleco also has an outstanding bill of P300 million with the Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC), which has also threatened the cooperative with a disconnection notice.

Aleco has owed its power suppliers a total of P4 billion for the past decades.

The accumulated debts were allegedly due to mismanagement, high systems loss due to pilferage, and poor billing and collection systems.(PNA) CTB/FGS/MSA/CBD/UTB


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