For many months now, we have been campaigning for the JVA of CENECO and Negros Electric and Power Corporation (NEPC) to happen. Thankfully, with the information drive to educate people, CENECO consumers voted YES in the plebiscite for the partnership to happen between CENECO and NEPC. The next step would be the NEPC Franchise. After months of deliberation and the endorsement of four Negrense representatives, Congress has now given the go-signal for the NEPC franchise so that the company can move forward with the implementation of its plans.
The Much-Awaited NEPC Franchise
Finally, the road to a more efficient, more modern, and more environment-friendly distribution utility (DU) has been paved. Bacolod City and Central Negros can look forward to better service, fewer brownouts, and more importantly, cheaper electricity rates that will translate to more efficient systems and reduced electric monthly bills.
Congress greenlights the NEPC Franchise in a pivotal session held last November 13, 2023, at the Mitra Building in Batasan Complex. The House Committee on Legislative Franchise gave its preliminary nod to the franchise proposal of the Negros Electric and Power Corporation (NEPC).
This landmark decision to grant the NEPC franchise follows a comprehensive review of the initiative presented by four Negrense lawmakers. These include Representatives Juliet Marie Ferrer, Stephen Paduano, Kiko Benitez, and Greg Gasataya.
Chaired by Gus Tambunting, the Committee engaged in robust discussions about House Bill 9310, which outlines the transfer of the franchise from the ailing Central Negros Electric Cooperative (CENECO) to the NEPC.
What the NEPC Franchise Covers
The scope of the franchise encompasses the cities of Bacolod, Bago, Silay, and Talisay, along with the Municipalities of Murcia and Don Salvador Benedicto.
During the deliberations, the Negrense representatives passionately underscored the urgency of NEPC’s intervention, citing the financial struggles faced by CENECO. These challenges stem from a shortage of Capital Expenditures (CAPEX) crucial for the modernization of existing facilities.
For several years now, Facebook has been a place where people rant about frequent unscheduled brownouts, fluctuations so many times in the day, as well as mysterious, exorbitant electric bills that suddenly shoot up. And all these are without reason. CENECO has already outdated its purpose. Hence, a need for another company to save CENECO and improve our DU.
Deliberations in Congress
The top brass from both NEPC and CENECO, along with representatives from the National Electrification Administration, Energy Regulatory Commission, and Securities and Exchange Commission, were present at the hearing. They extensively discussed the gravity of the need to grant the NEPC franchise to operate in Bacolod City and Central Negros.
A focal point of the discussions was the Joint Venture Agreement (JVA), emphasizing the conduct and outcome of its ratification through a plebiscite. The majority of consumers cast their votes in favor of the JVA, further solidifying the rationale behind the transition.
In a resolute conclusion, the committee approved in principle, the proposed House Bill 9310.
However, this approval is contingent upon the submission of specific documentary requirements, as specified during the discussion.
NEPC President Roel Castro said that they would submit the documents and answer in writing the issues raised by some committee members.
Light at the End of the Tunnel
There is hope for a brighter future.
We, among thousands of electricity consumers, are very happy with this because this means that in the next few years, we will have a more stable distribution utility.
This move in Congress signifies a critical juncture in reshaping the energy landscape in Central Negros. With all the developments going on around Bacolod City and the province of Negros Occidental, these all need stable and ample energy supply to progress.
NEPC is poised to play a transformative role in the area’s electric distribution service and we are hopeful because of their performance with MORE Power in Iloilo City.