Power restored in 2 provincial towns

by Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 14 2013 06:33 PM | Updated as of Feb 15 2013 02:33 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Power has been restored in two towns in Nueva Ecija and Nueva Vizcaya, after their electric cooperative promised to pay overdue debts to power supplier First Gen Hydro.

First Gen Hydro reconnected Pantabangan Municipal Electric Services (PAMES) to the electricity grid after its officers, local government unit together with the company and Department of Energy have come to an agreement on the payment of debts.

First Gen Hydro spokesman Dennis Gonzalez says the utility was able to assure the payment of P4.7 million out of its P8.7 million debt with the promise of paying the remainder of P4 million by March 12.

However, PAMES has a due payment of P1.7 million on February 26 and another P1.7 million by end March.

If PAMES fails to pay the P1.7 million due end of February, First Gen says it may again recommend the disconnection of PAMES. This means that the towns of Pantabangan in Nueva Ecija and Castaneda in Nueva Vizcaya will again experience darkness.

First Gen said that ordinary consumers of PAMES, who are paying their electric bill regularly, are affected by brownouts.

Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla said he will again use his persuasive powers in case PAMES defaults with the end-goal of reforming the current system of the local government unit-run utility.

According to Petilla, electricity is so important that the usual belief that it's better to have water than power does not anymore hold.

Petilla said the people would rather have electricity since water can be purchased and stored in containers while power cannot be reserved and used at a later date.

Petilla also said that the DOE exposes the names of utilities and coops and formulate solutions so that their enormous debts do not balloon.