The power of water PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 05 June 2016 14:36

BEHIND  THE  LINES

BY BOB JALDON

 

Los Angeles, CA. — From one of my good friends in Zamboanga: water and power are back. Now you get to sleep soundly with e-fans and air-cons, and take a shower or bath, as the smell and dirt may be, before going to bed. I hope the health authorities have identified the cause of gastro cases that have been traced to dirty drinking water. The kind of bacteria transmitted by the water should be determined so that the correct antidote could be applied.

Anyway, here’s the latest as far as Zamboanga’s power condition is concerned: The National Electrification Administration (NEA) expects the Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Zamcelco) to submit its Terms of Reference (TOR) for the long-awaited investment and management contract (IMC) within the year.

The IMC is seen as the “light-saver” (Luke Skywalker’s primary weapon) of Zamcelco that’s been drowning in heavy debt and suffering extreme financial losses that led NEA to classify it as Yellow.

Of course, the TOR is subject to discussion by the Zamcelco board and management. Last year, Zamcelco hired a consultant to do the TOR which will also require discussions and consultation with Zamcelco’s member-consumers. After this process, the TOR, if approved by Zamcelco and its consumers, will have to be approved by NEA. Once okayed by NEA, a bidding will be conducted for the IMC within this year, most likely in September.

Initially, there are two power distribution utilities that have signified their intention to bid for the IMC — Meralco and Aboitiz Power. These are giant power firms that can straighten Zamcelco’s finances. You see, millionaire Manny V. Pangilinan’s group has taken over the management of Western Mindanao Hospital for a contract of 10 years. It’s doing better now, according to my cousin, Dr. Marvin Sebastian.

The NEA is an attached agency of the Department of Energy mandated to strengthen electric cooperatives by ensuring efficiency, reliability and global competitiveness.

Meanwhile, in Manila, Meralco is exploring legal options against two ERC implementing rules that will allow greater competition in the retail electricity market as well as open to eligible users full access to the country’s transmission grid and private utilities’ distribution system.

Explains Engineer Ben Conti, consultant of San Ramon Power, Inc. (SRPI): power consumers of 750 KW or more can contract power with any of the power providers like Western Mindanao Power Corp. or Thermal Marine Inc. or Aboitiz Power and cease being a customer of a particular electric cooperative.

As an example, Ben cites KCC Mall de Zambo. If the management of this huge mall (so far) believes, after an actuarial analysis, that buying electricity directly to power providers is more advantageous, it may do so and lose membership with Zamcelco.

The negative effect on Zamcelco is that sale of electricity will be reduced, therefore, affecting its income.

Meralco is set to challenge the rules in court or appeal the twin regulations to the Energy Regulatory Board (ERC). The two resolutions will fully implement the Retail Competition and Open Access (ROCA) in the power market.

The ERC said the resolutions were part of the mandate under Republic Act 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001, “to promote true competition and prevent harmful monopoly and market power abuse in the electric power industry.”

This, of course, will take effect on June 26, 2018, at which time, hopefully, the 105 megawatt coal power plant of the San Ramon Power, Inc. shall be in full operation. During this phase, suppliers of electricity will be allowed to contract with end users whose aggregate demand within a contiguous area is at least 750kw.

Because Zamboanga has a reserve power of more than 25 MW and water all around, we wish you all a brighter summer, wet surroundings and a sweeter, progressive life.