ERC orders BSTC to halt shutdown of Buseco

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 15 Sept) – Power consumers in Malaybalay City and nine towns in Bukidnon may now heave a sigh of relief as the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has ordered the Bukidnon Sub-Transmission Corporation (BSTC) to halt its disconnection and suspension of service to Bukidnon Second Electric Cooperative (Buseco).

The disconnection of Buseco from BSTC’s 69-kilovolt Kibawe-Maramag-Aglayan sub-transmission line would have taken effect noon today (Thursday, Sept. 15).

BSTC said its board of directors decided to disconnect Buseco for failing to pay delinquent accounts from February to August this year amounting to over P7 million.

In a news article posted on its website on Wednesday, the ERC said it acted on Buseco’s petition filed on Sept. 9 to stop the disconnection.

“The ERC acted with dispatch on the petition of Buseco for the issuance of a cease and desist order against BSTC to avert any negative socioeconomic impact that will be caused by the suspension of Buseco’s electric service,” the article quoted ERC Chairman and CEO Jose Vicente B. Salazar as saying.

“Considering that such disconnection will cause serious and irreparable damage to the consumers, the Commission directed the parties to observe the status quo prevailing before the issuance of the notice of disconnection and refrain from the intended disconnection of Buseco’s facilities,” Salazar added.

But ERC ordered Buseco to pay at least 10 percent of its outstanding balance pending the hearing and disposition of the case.

Buseco said in an advisory on Thursday last week that it could not pay the amount demanded by BSTC without approval from ERC.

It added the demand for payment has no legal basis as the contract between Buseco and BSTC had expired on Jan. 25 this year.

In radio interviews last week, BSTC countered it has continued servicing Buseco even without a contract.

The shutdown would have affected Malaybalay, the towns of Lantapan, Cabanglasan, Impasugong, Sumilao, Manolo Fortich, Malitbog, Libona, Baungon and Talakag, and Barangay Lilingayon of Valencia City.

In 2010, ERC approved the sale of the 69kv sub-transmission system in Bukidnon from the Transmission Corporation to BSTC, a consortium formed by Buseco and First Bukidnon Electric Cooperative (Fibeco), in line with the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001.

BSTC is only servicing Bukidnon’s two electric cooperatives. (H. Marcos C. Mordeno / MindaNews)