Mariano calls Zamcelco, SRPI brass to a hearing PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 07 March 2015 18:20

San Jose, CA. — What is causing the delay in the construction of a power plant in Zamboanga city?

Councilor Charlie Mariano, council committee chairman on energy and public utilities, wants to know. He has summoned the officials of the Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Zamcelco) and the San Ramon Power, Inc. (SRPI) to a hearing on March 11 at the city council to find out the cause of the impediment even as the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has approved the power sales agreement (PSA) that both entities entered into almost two years ago.

In an exclusive interview with this writer, Mariano said that he previously conferred with the officers of both entities to be apprised on the status of the project. The glitch, he said, is the delay by Zamcelco in implementing an enhancement program (EP) aimed at improving the financial viability of the electric firm as a pre-requisite of project lenders (banks) and capitalists.

The enhancement program is also expected to raise Zamcelco’s rating to “A” from a present low “C” by the National Electrification Administration (NEA). The EP’s formulation was approved by Zamcelco’s member-consumers on Aug. 11, 2013 and is targeted to start this month.

Consistent with the EP, Zamcelco shall have selected by now a partner to finance and provide technical assistance in the operation and management of the electric cooperative. When this is done, Mariano said, SRPI shall have attained a financial closure which means that it can now issue a notice to its contractor to proceed with the construction of the power plant.

Following this timetable, the plant will commence operations by the second half of 2018, an official of SRPI assured.

Mariano said he also wants to know why Zamcelco’s system’s loss has zoomed from 18.54 percent in 2013 to 28.38 percent as of December 2014 and how much is the cooperative’s net loss ending 2014.

In a separate statement, meanwhile, SRPI said that the EP is a pressing need to upgrade Zamcelco’s financial rating. The EP shall follow a legal framework acceptable to NEA that will include technical expertise, logistical support and funding for improvement projects.

More importantly, Zamcelco will retain ownership of the franchise and distribution assets, SRPI said.

The power company said that while waiting for the completion and operation of the San Ramon power plant, interim power can be provided by its allied plants like the Western Mindanao Power Corporation is Sangali, this city; the Mapalad power plant in Iligan city (which is already supplying Zamboanga with interim power); and the Sarangani energy coal-fired power plant in Sarangani province.

Mariano said his committee will urge the early construction of the power plant that will be solely dedicated for Zamboanga city as Mindanao again brazes for another long-drawn rotational power blackouts that may last for as long as five hours daily. (Bob Jaldon)