LEGAZPI CITY – The provincial government of Albay has readied disbursement vouchers for the payment of its PHP1.7-million electric debts.
In a press conference on Friday at the provincial guest house, Gov. Edcel Greco Lagman said he wants the provincial government to take the lead in paying Albay Electric Cooperative (ALECO), so the other 18 local government units (LGUs) in the province would follow suit.
"We will be paying our arrears, for the other LGUs to follow. Marami pong LGUs dito (15 municipalities, three cities) so palagay ko po magkakaroon kami ng moral ascendancy kung magbayad kami at magpatawag po ako ng meeting sa mga mayors po natin, ito na po ang aming updated statement of accounts, nakapagbayad na po kami, baka pwede kayo naman po magbayad na. Kailangan po ito ng ALECO (so I think we will have moral ascendancy if we pay and I will call a meeting with our mayors, this is our updated statement of accounts, we have already paid, maybe you can pay now. ALECO needs this)," Lagman said.
He said the provincial government is expected to pay its arrears within the next week.
Based on ALECO records, a total of PHP16.8 million will be collected if all the 18 LGUs in the province will pay their electric debts.
Lagman also said PHP68 million in the local fund is available to build at least two electric substations that will reduce the transmission losses of ALECO.
"Once losses are lowered, the electricity rates will also be reduced as this is passed on to consumers," he said.
ALECO acting general manager Wilfredo Bucsit assured Albayanos of the viability of ALECO’s operations in the coming months.
He said the guaranteed and continuous supply of electricity has buoyed the spirit of Albayano consumers.
He also compared the status of ALECO with a “stage three cancer”, although he is hopeful it could still recover and become a viable electric cooperative again.
Albayanos can rest assured that they will have enough power supply for at least the next 12 months, Bucsit said.
Residents of the province had been complaining of frequent brownouts and higher electricity charges than in other parts of the country.
Aside from the provincial government and ALECO, the assurance of continued power supply was also given by the National Electrification Administration (NEA) and San Miguel Energy Corporation (SMEC).
Despite previous troubles between Albayanos and Albay Power Electric Corporation (APEC), Ramon Ang, SMC president and chief executive officer, agreed to shell out PHP500 million to pay ALECO’s supplier and has granted an Emergency Power Supply Agreement to ALECO in the next 12 months.
Meanwhile, Lagman also promised the support of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in ALECO’s campaign to eradicate illegal connections and electricity pilferage in the province.
Earlier, ALECO had a concession agreement with APEC but the same was terminated when former Governor Noel Rosal actively initiated the convening of a Special Annual General Membership Assembly on Sept. 3, 2022.
This paved the way for the ALECO to fully manage and operate the purchase and distribution of electricity to the whole province starting last Dec. 25. (PNA)