By Ellson Quismorio
The National Electrification Administration (NEA) Administrator Edgardo Masongsong announced plans to partially and temporarily take over the management of the Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative (Zamcelco) in order to help resolve key issues besetting the power cooperative.
Reports reaching the House of Representatives said this announcement was made over the weekend at an Energy Summit held at the Zamelco auditorium. The summit was initiated by Zamboanga City Rep. Celso Lobregat, who last month aired concerns regarding Zamelco’s financial problems.
Lobregat specifically appealed to the NEA to step in and save the power cooperative, or else its problems might end up crippling its service much to the detriment to Zamboangueños.
The Mindanao lawmaker said Zamelco’s woes “is hurting the business sector and the community as well.”
These include a systems loss level of 23 percent, and over P2 billion in liabilities, with P1.3 billion in outstanding debt to power suppliers.
The impending NEA takeover is also primarily meant to ensure a smooth, orderly, timely and transparent process for the selection of a credible and experienced power distributor that will undertake the operations and management of Zamelco under an investment management contract (IMC).
Masongsong presided over the summit, which was attended by key power stakeholders namely consumer and industry groups, local and national government officials, as well as community and religious leaders.
Masongsong said NEA would undertake the partial and temporary takeover of Zamelco in response to the unanimous clamor of the events’ attendees–which included Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Isabelle Climaco-Salazar–to intervene and ensure a timely and transparent process for the selection of an IMC contractor .
The NEA chief said he expects to receive the approval of the Board within the week.
There are currently five interested bidders for the Zamelco IMC contract, including the Manila Electric Company (Meralco)–the country’s largest power distributor through its subsidiary Comstech Integrated Alliance, Inc. and Aboitiz Power subsidiary Davao Light and Power Company.