Bukidnon power firm faces shutdown for unpaid connection bills

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 9 Sep) – Half of Bukidnon province will lose power supply starting noon of Sept. 15 if the Bukidnon Second Electric Cooperative (Buseco) fails to pay its unpaid connection charges of over P7 million to a subtransmission company.

The disconnection will affect Malaybalay; the towns of Lantapan, Cabanglasan, Impasugong, Sumilao, Manolo Fortich, Libona, Malitbog, Baungon and Talakag; and Barangay Lilingayon of Valencia City.

In an interview Thursday over dxDB-Radyo Veritas Malaybalay, Bukidnon Sub-Transmission Corp. (BSTC) chief operating officer Artis Nikki Tortola said Buseco has not paid its charges from February to August this year.

Tortola said BSTC, as a matter of procedure, has sent Buseco several monthly billing statements and notices of disconnection but the latter disregarded them.

He said Buseco started availing of BSTC’s connection service to power from the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines since June last year. In contrast, he said, the First Bukidnon Electric Cooperative has always paid its bills.

BSTC is operating the 69-kilovolt Kibawe-Maramag-Aglayan sub-transmission system in Bukidnon and bill Buseco and Fibeco for the connection charge and residual sub-transmission charge and applicable value added tax, he explained.

BSTC is only servicing Bukidnon’s two electric cooperatives, he added.

Tortola said BSTC doesn’t want to inconvenience Buseco’s consumers.

“All we want is for them (Buseco) to pay what’s due to us.”

“If they pay us after the disconnection, we will try our best to restore power as soon as possible,” he said.

BSTC has provided an advisory of the impending disconnection to local government units whose areas will be affected by it.

Reacting to the advisory, Gov. Jose Maria R. Zubiri issued a recorded statement aired on several radio stations this week, calling for a rally against Buseco if the disconnection pushes through.

Zubiri called Buseco’s board of directors “walay pulos” (useless) and demanded their resignation.

For its part, Buseco said in a public advisory Thursday that the impending disconnection was a “harassment” and has no legal basis.

It cited that there is no contract between the cooperative and BSTC.

It said it is constrained to pay the connection charge and residual sub-transmission charge because the agreement between them expired on Jan. 25, 2016.

Tortola admitted there is no contract between Buseco and BSTC but emphasized that despite the absence of such agreement the latter continued to provide service to the distribution firm.

In 2010, the ERC approved the sale of the 69-KV subtransmission line in Bukidnon from the Transmission Corporation to BSTC, a consortium formed by Buseco and Fibeco. In line with the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001.

Buseco and Fibeco established a 50-50 capital sharing in the cost of investment, profit sharing and cost of operations of BSTC.

The consortium is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission as a subtransmission corporation, which means it is neither a distribution utility nor an electric cooperative. (H. Marcos C. Mordeno / MindaNews)