JCPC reviews franchises of power distributors

Danessa Rivera - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Joint Congressional Power Commission (JCPC) will review the franchises of all distribution utilities (DUs), particularly ailing electric cooperatives (ECs), to determine whether there is need to revamp the existing operators of the franchise areas.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said there is a need to review the franchises of all power distribution utilities if they are operating under the mandate of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001 and this could be done under the JCPC.

Since the JCPC is composed of members of both houses of Congress, swift action can be meted out immediately, he said. Franchises are issued by Congress.

“It’s really time to review the franchises of these ailing electric coops and at the same time review the franchises of all utilities,” said Gatchalian, who co-chairs the JCPC.

Under the EPIRA, JCPC was formed as the oversight committee to assess and review the implementation of the law, as well as its impact on consumer interests.

There are at least 10 ailing ECs out of the 121 power coops under the National Electrification Administration (NEA), Gatchalian said. Ailing ECs are those that are bankrupt or deep in debt.

“We will now review the franchises of each and every ailing cooperative and if warranted, we will cancel their franchise and give it to another operator who can operate it better,” Gatchalian said.

The lawmaker also highlighted the need to review franchises of other distribution utilities to know if they are securing power supply at the least cost, as mandated by EPIRA.

“We also want to review the franchises of all utilities to make sure they are buying the least cost generation and delivering the best service,” Gatchalian said.

He said the franchise granted unto power utilities are the only pressure consumers have over DUs.

“We’re only giving the privilege to operate in that specific area,” Gatchalian said.

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