Bizmen OK with JVA but seek grid coordinating council, too

The business sector welcomes the joint venture agreement between Central Negros Electric Cooperative (CENECO) and Primelectric Holdings Inc. (PHI) but is urging the creation of a Visayas Grid Coordinating Council to ensure power reliability, Frank Carbon, Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive officer, said Monday, June 5.

Carbon told DIGICAST NEGROS that a coordinating council, composed of industry players who supply, generate, transmit and distribute electricity, and agencies like the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, Department of Energy and Energy Regulatory Board, is needed to discuss how to make power supply in the Visayas sufficient, reliable, and affordable.

Carbon said PHI presented its JVA proposal to MBCCI, and the businessmen asked the firm how they plan to improve CENECO’s services and how much they will spend to do it.

“They need to tell us what they will spend and focus on so we can hold them accountable to their promises,” he said.

PHI can promise an almost perfect distribution service, but if there are problems with transmission and generation, brownouts and other inconveniences will still occur, Carbon said.

This is the reason why a Visayas Grid Coordinating Council must be put in place to discuss the problems and possible solutions towards the improvement in the supply of electricity to every household, Carbon said.

“There must be a power development plan that should be put in place so that all bases are covered in the power industry and to avoid finger-pointing on who’s to blame,” he said.

Carbon also said that they welcome the privatization of CENECO as PHI can be held more accountable and funds can be infused into improving the power distribution system.

“The private sector can provide and invest in manpower training and equipment that is necessary,” he said.

Meanwhile, Power Watch Negros Secretary-General Wennie Sancho said they manifested their support for the JVA at a public consultation at the Bacolod City Government Center on Monday.

Sancho said that they presented a letter of acceptance in support of the JVA but reminded the executives behind the agreement to hear the voice of the consumers who have the final say on whether to privatize CENECO or not.

“A plebiscite means the voice of the people must be heard as the JVA must undergo legal processes,” he said, adding “Information dissemination on the JVA must be made by following the guidelines of the National Electrification Administration.”

Sancho said Power Watch and Utilities Consumers Advocates for Reforms (UCARE) have about 1,500 members, mostly CENECO consumers from Bacolod and nearby towns and cities.

He said that the process of the joint venture must be expedited as the more it is delayed, “the more we prolong the agony of the consumers on the inconveniences they are experiencing”.

DIGICAST NEGROS tried but failed to contact the convenor of the Diocese of Bacolod-led Anti-Joint Venture Agreement Coalition in the province.*

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