Consumers push for affordable, reliable power at Ceneco dialog

The dialog at CENECO on Tuesday.*

“Our goal is reliable, renewable, available, affordable and sustainable energy for Negros Occidental”, former governor Rafael Coscolluela said Tuesday, January 24.

Leaders of consumers groups led by Coscolluela and Fr. Chris Gonzales, head of the Diocese of Bacolod Social Action Center, met with Central Negros Electric Cooperative officials at the CENECO board room Tuesday.

“While we favor dialog as the means to resolve issues, we are not averse to resorting to constructive criticism when called for. We thank the CENECO Board and management for being open to this,” Coscolluela said.

“The healthy communication of ideas involved the discussion of electricity rates, power contracts and environment concerns. The consumer groups also sought clarification on the alleged ailing coop”, a CENECO statement on the dialog said.

CENECO acting general manager Arnel Lapore said they are open to dialogs with consumers groups to answer their concerns, improve the cooperative’s services and in the spirit of transparency.

Sometimes CENECO also needs the help of stakeholders to call the attention of regulating agencies, he said.

Coscolluela said they discussed three CENECO applications for CapEx (capital expense for systems improvement) pending before the Energy Regulatory Commission.

“We requested for a summary of what the CapEx will cover and what the expected cost versus benefit will be. Our position is that ERC should allow distribution utilities (DU’s) more autonomy in securing funding and implementing systems upgrading, in order to avoid undue delay,” he said.

Terms of Reference for future power supply agreements should provide for full disclosure of fuel costs passed on to consumers, Coscolluela also said.

On the issue of CENECO being in financial distress because they have to resort to loans, management explained that they borrow short-term money to avail of early payment discounts from power suppliers, he said.

“This actually results in a net gain for CENECO. Just the same, CENECO is subject to audit and its financial position is under review by the Acting GM Arnel Lapore”, Coscolluela said.

Lapore raised his concern about systems losses arising from pilferage. He outlined the measures they will undertake to reduce these losses and asked for public cooperation, especially in reporting possible pilferage, Coscolluela added.

They were informed that a Systems Loss Committee is being mobilized to find ways to address the problem more effectively, Coscolluela said.
“We agreed on transparency and open dialog to help find solutions to the problems faced by electric coops in general and CENECO in particular,” he said.

Also present at the dialog were Raymund Panganduyan, Inday Goco of the Freedom From Debt Coalition, Junjun Mojica of REpower Negros, lawyer Mark Mayo and youth representative Von Maungca, Coscolluela said.*

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