Group says tapping power from private firm to result in higher electricity costs in Samal

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 02 March) – A consumers’ organization in Davao Region criticized the decision of the Northern Davao Electric Cooperative (Nordeco) to continue sourcing power for the Island Garden City of Samal (Igacos) from a private company instead of repairing the existing underground cable.

In a statement emailed on Thursday, Ryan Amper, co-convenor of Davao Consumer Movement, said that this decision would affect consumers in the island, as it would result in higher electricity costs.

Nordeco is getting its power supply from the Mindoro Power Corp.

“The increased cost of power due to Nordeco’s decision to tap a private company will place an additional burden on our already strained finances. Therefore, our group will not rest until Nordeco addresses our concerns and provides us with a power source that is both stable and affordable,” he said.

Davao Light and Power Company contractors do maintenance work on power lines along JP Laurel Avenue in Davao City on Sunday, January 15, 2023. MINDANEWS PHOTO

He said the electricity cooperative should repair the underground cable that was destroyed on Christmas Day last year.

“We demand that it take immediate and sensible action to fix the underground cable and ensure that such failures do not happen again in the future,” he added.

Amper said his group also opposed Nordeco’s plan to build a 25-kilometer submarine cable with an estimated cost of P1.4 billion.

He said the project is “financially senseless and technically unsound,” and would higher electricity bills not only for consumers in Igacos but also the entire consumer base of Nordeco.

He said the “inefficiency” of Nordeco in “providing power to its franchise area has been an ongoing issue” and blamed the government regulators for its failure to hold the electric cooperative accountable for its poor services.

“Over the years, we have experienced countless power outages that have affected our daily lives, businesses, and ultimately the local economy. Despite repeated complaints and calls for action, Nordeco has failed to address these issues and provide a more reliable and efficient power supply,” he said.

He said the power supply issues put financial strain on the households and businesses in the franchisee area of Nordeco and caused them to endure frequent power outages.

He urged Nordeco to prioritize their needs by investing in a more sustainable and reliable power source as consumers “deserve better.”

“We will continue to advocate for the rights and interests of our communities and hold Nordeco accountable for their actions. Until then, we will speak out against Nordeco’s inefficiencies and demand better services for our communities,” he said.

Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta Partylist Rep. Margarita Ignacia B. Nograles filed House Bill 6740 seeking to expand the franchise area of Aboitiz-owned Davao Light and Power Company (DLPC) to eight additional areas.

The bill was filed just six months after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. vetoed HB 10554, which sought to amend Republic Act 11515, extending for another 25 years the franchise granted to DLPC.

HB 10554 would have placed Tagum City, Igacos, and the towns of Asuncion, Kapalong, New Corella, San Isidro, and Talaingod under the franchise area of DLPC.

These areas are being serviced by the Nordeco, which has an existing franchise for the mainland until 2028 and Samal until 2033.

In her explanatory note, Nograles said HB 6740 would seek to expand the franchise of DLPC by including those same areas in the vetoed bill, and the Maco town in Davao de Oro in the jurisdiction of DLPC.

DLPC currently services Davao City, Panabo City, and the towns of Carmen, Dujali and Sto. Tomas in Davao del Norte.

“Over the years, Nordeco has suffered from losses and conflicting factions within the cooperative which have led to inadequate infrastructure, piling debts to service providers including power suppliers, cancelled power supply contracts, excessive systems losses, and failure to energize parts of its franchise area even up to this time,” Nograles said.

She said Nordeco failed to address the problems and improve services within its franchise resulting in “frequent power outages, thereby impeding economic development.” (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)