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Central Negros Power Shift: Congress Approves NEPC’s Franchise Proposal

Central Negros Power Shift: Congress Approves NEPC's Franchise Proposal

The House Committee on Legislative Franchise has given its preliminary approval to the franchise proposal of Negros Electric and Power Corporation (NEPC). This is a major step in the transition of the power distribution from Central Negros Electric Cooperative (CENECO) to NEPC.

The franchise proposal, or House Bill 9310, was filed by four Negrense lawmakers, namely Representatives Juliet Marie De Leon Ferrer, Joseph Stephen Paduano, Francisco Benitez and Greg Gasataya. The committee, chaired by Gus Tambunting, reviewed and discussed the proposal in a session held on November 13, 2023, at the Mitra Building in Batasan Complex.

Central Negros Power Shift: Congress Approves NEPC's Franchise Proposal

The proposal covers the power distribution in the cities of Bacolod, Bago, Silay, and Talisay, and the Municipalities of Murcia and Don Salvador Benedicto. The Negrense representatives argued that NEPC’s intervention was necessary, due to the financial difficulties faced by CENECO.

CENECO has been suffering from a lack of capital expenditures, or CAPEX, which are funds used to improve and maintain the power facilities. This has led to frequent power outages and high system losses. CENECO also has the second-highest power rates among the electric cooperatives in the country, as of September 2023.

Central Negros Power Shift: Congress Approves NEPC's Franchise Proposal

To solve these problems, CENECO entered into a Joint Venture Agreement (JVA) with NEPC, a private corporation that specializes in power distribution and management. Under the JVA, NEPC will invest P2 billion in CAPEX for CENECO over a period of 25 years, and will also take over the debts and liabilities of CENECO.

The JVA was approved by the majority of CENECO’s consumers in a plebiscite. This provided the basis for the franchise proposal of NEPC, which was supported by various stakeholders, including NEPC and CENECO officials, and representatives from the National Electrification Administration, Energy Regulatory Commission, and Securities and Exchange Commission.

Central Negros Power Shift: Congress Approves NEPC's Franchise Proposal

The committee approved the proposal, in principle, but required NEPC to submit some documentary requirements. NEPC President Roel Castro said that they would comply with the committee’s requests and address the issues raised by some committee members.

The franchise approval of NEPC is a significant milestone in changing the power landscape in Central Negros. It is expected to bring lower power rates, more reliable and stable power supply, more responsive and transparent service, and more inclusive and participatory governance for the consumers and the region.

The Blue Ink

Dhadha Garcia is a lifestyle blogger from Bacolod, PH. She is a mompreneur, a full-time blogger, and a content creator. She started blogging in 2007 and became one of the pioneers of the Negrense Blogging Society, Inc. (NBSI) in 2009, where she has received several awards and nominations for her blogs. She also writes at www.twenteenmom.com and www.classysweets.com.

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