DOE orders reconnection of Albay to power grid

By Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 31 2013 03:50 PM | Updated as of Aug 01 2013 04:50 AM

MANILA (UPDATED) -- Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla has ordered the reconnection of Albay Electric Cooperative (Aleco) to the national power grid by 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Albay on Tuesday experienced a blackout after National Grid Corp. of the Philippines cut off power supply to Aleco due to the cooperative's debts to power generators.

The reconnection was ordered after Aleco successfully disconnected its top 100 delinquent customers, Petilla said.

At the same time, Petilla said the City of Legazpi has promised to declare a state of calamity for them to be able to use the calamity funds for payment of Aleco's outstanding debt of P19 million for July.

But Petilla warned Aleco that it is still in danger of being disconnected again if it cannot pay its current dues in the future.

For instance, after the payable amount in July, another bill will come on August 4 to the tune of around P100 million. Once Aleco defaults again on August 25, a new disconnection notice will be issued.

Petilla, however, assured that a rehabilitation plan is underway to settle Aleco's total debts of more than P4 billion.

Meanwhile, Saturnino Velasco, president of the Albay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the Aleco should be privatized to prevent another incident such as this.

"It's about time to privatize Aleco... as it is mismanaged by the people already," Velasco told ANC.

"Aleco is now running at a loss, it should be privatized [already]. We have major [power] players interested in Aleco... [and] it should be run by these people [instead]," he continued.

Velasco said the business group is prepared to support whoever plans to take over Aleco as long as the cooperative will be managed well.