Qualifications of farmers’ coop to distribute power evaluated

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BY MARCHEL P. ESPINA

Power Watch Negros had reached out to the farmers’ cooperative following its application for an electric distribution franchise in Negros Island, as the group continues to evaluate whether or not the proposed takeover will benefit the consumers.

Wennie Sancho, secretary-general of Power Watch, in a letter to the board of directors of the Gamboa Hermanos Farmers Cooperative dated July 22, said their group is evaluating the merits of changing the electric franchise distributor in central Negros, including Bacolod City.

He questioned the farmers’ coop on how it can improve the delivery of electric service to the people of Bacolod and central Negros, and its technical and management qualifications to deliver on these improvements.

He also asked the coop on who will provide the operations experience of running the electric distribution services in their cooperative.

He also wanted to know how the coop can provide the financial resources needed to invest in the facilities and improvements of the distribution system, and its plan to compensate the owners of electric coops who are also the member-consumers.

He said he is hoping that 30 days would be sufficient for the coop to come up with answers to their questions.

Sancho said the group sent a letter to the farmers’ coop so “they can explain their intent and purposes relevant to the power crisis hounding all of us.”

On July 16, the group also sent a letter to the Central Negros Electric Cooperative, asking for more information on the proposal.

House Bill 3962, or an “act granting the Gamboa Hermanos Farmworkers Multipurpose Cooperative (GHFMPC) a franchise to construct, install, establish, operate, own, manage and maintain distribution systems for the conveyance of electric power to the end-users in the Island of Negros and for other purposes, was filed by Reps. Genaro Alvarez (Neg. Occ., 6th District), Gerardo Valmayor Jr. (Neg. Occ., 1st District), and Manuel Sagarbarria (Neg. Or., 2nd District) in August last year. The HB was refiled from the 17th Congress.

The bill seeks to provide a dependable and efficient electric power distribution system for the Island of Negros by granting GHFMPC a franchise to operate in the provinces of Negros Occidental and Oriental.

It also seeks to address the issue of high electricity prices and recurring blackouts through a regime of efficient and quality service delivery to end-users.

The Northern Negros Electric Cooperative Inc. had earlier manifested its strong opposition to the proposed bill that it said will privatize electric cooperatives in Negros Island.*

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