Albay not affected by summer power crisis

LEGAZPI CITY— While the rest of the country braces itself for an impending electricity shortage this summer, the province of Albay will not be affected by it.

BICOL STANDARD FILE PHOTO

This was the assurance made by the embattled Albay Power and Energy Corporation (APEC) in response to queries from its despondent consumers who were disturbed by reports on national media.

According to APEC’s General Manager Manny Imperial, their company won’t have trouble looking for sources of power as they have their own supplier.

The public announcement came amidst criticisms that APEC has yet to prove its worth after taking over the operations of the ruined Albay Electric Cooperative (ALECO) about a year ago.

Imperial explained that being a subsidiary of San Miguel Energy Corporation (SMEC) they have their own steady resource of electricity not only from their own sister companies but from other contractors as well.

The man at the helm of APEC’s operations explained that 70% of their supply comes from their own while the rest are bought from long-time business partners he refused to mention.

The promise came while APEC is battling to save ALECO from a four- billion-dollar debt, an unresolved labour dispute, an erroneous billing system and opposition from anti-privateers.

APEC took over the management of ALECO after the hasty ratification of a debated concession agreement entered into by an interim board of directors appointed by the National Electrification Administration (NEA).

In the course of the take-over, dozens of ALECO’s employees went on strike and refused to accept settlement.

An issued Return-To-Work Order by Sec. Rosalinda Baldoz of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) has yet to be complied with by APEC.

The most glaring ineptitude of the company is its incorrect billing statements.

According to reports from the consumers themselves, middle class households and poor farmers alike were billed with hundreds of thousands of pesos for power they did not consume.

At present, the militant-backed group who call themselves the New ALECO is waging a “No Payment to APEC Campaign” in every town of the province.

This cluster is composed of the former striking employees of ALECO, people’s organizations and progressive groups.

The group’s spokesperson, Engr. Virgilio Perdigon Jr., dismissed Imperial’s statement saying that APEC is yet again making another promise it cannot keep.

He said that he has doubts on how APEC is going to live up to its assurance given the fact that the company can’t even solve the problems of the cooperative.

The New ALECO is questioning the validity of the concession agreement in court and has been calling for the expulsion of APEC from ALECO.

They are also protesting against the corporate exploitation of Albay’s energy fields.

The province has two geothermal plants one of which is in the town of Tiwi, operated by Aboitiz while the other is in Manito which is owned by the Lopez’s Energy Development Corporation (EDC).

Despite these abundances, according to Perdigon, the people of Albay continue to bear the brunt of expensive electric bills and deplorable power utility service. (Joey B. Garalde, CBCP News)

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