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Pay power bills now, APEC urges consumers

LEGAZPI CITY, October 4, 2016 (Bicol Standard)— “Please pay your electric bills, otherwise we will have no electricity this coming December.”

This is the appeal of Pat Gutierrez, spokesperson of Albay Power and Energy Corporation (APEC).

In a press conference, she said only 8% of its 180,000 member-consumers are regularly paying their power bills.

As a result of which, APEC’s debt has ballooned to Php1.8-B, she added.

If the corporation is unable to pay its debt on December 22, the electric supply in Albay may be disconnected, she said. This is since their mother company San Miguel Corporation has not agreed to assume the payment of APEC’s debts.

In connection with this, Gutierrez advised member-consumers who have balances to approach the corporation for assistance.

She added that they should not wait for the disconnection notice to arrive.

Meantime, she admitted that APEC has been having difficulty with its power bill records. However, the same should not be used as an excuse for consumers to not pay their bills, she said.

On the other hand, Atty. Oliver Olaybal, former member of the board of directors of Albay Electric Cooperative (ALECO), said in a recent statement that such non-payment could be due to the following reasons:

“First. Electric power is not affordable. Salceda must introduce legislation removing VAT from the price structure of electricity.

Second. Restore franchise operations to ALECO. The consumers are hesitant in having to pay their dues to APEC because ALECO is not under contract with APEC. Besides, the law that created NEA and the electric cooperatives in 1973 prohibits the sale or lease of the assets of the utilities. These assets are reserved for liquidation and distribution to the consumers upon expiration of ALECO's franchise in 2041.”

Olaybal added: “What happened to ALECO is happening to the rest of the failed electric cooperatives.

Salceda could also introduce legislation abolishing NEA which has impoverished electric cooperatives through overpriced loan packages.

NEA has destroyed electric cooperatives by oppressive management takeovers, exercising authority without taking responsibility. Anyway, upon conversion of the electric cooperatives into stock corporations like Meralco, the utilities wound have no more need for NEA.

Salceda must require NEA to release to ALECO the undisbursed balance of P150 million out of the P500 million grant given by the government in 2007, so that ALECO shall have something to start with.

It is misleading to suggest the privatization of electric cooperatives. They are privately owned by the consumers who contribute until now for the acquisition of their facilities.

ALECO through its President Jaime B. Chua has a pending petition with Energy Regulatory Commission to disauthorize further franchise operations in Albay, because APEC has no congressional franchise as required by law, and APEC is without ERC license to sell electricity in Albay province.”


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