Power consumers protesting against the poor service of the power cooperative in 2011. – Websitepic
By MANNY T UGALDE
LEGAZPI CITY: It took a long time for the now bankrupt Albay Electric Cooperative (Aleco) to finally come out hard against power supply thieves who are being blamed for being one of the major causes why the power coop is on the verge of financial collapse.
Aleco is said to be among the 10th worst electric cooperatives in the country as a result of mismanagement and corruption.
Last week, one of the five big private establishments that were initially caught using “jumpers,” or illegal power connection in December last year was reportedly cut of its power connection after it failed to pay the P5M computed liabilities.
The power connection, however, was restored on the same day after its owner signed a promissory note for early settlement of his liabilities based on the estimated cost of stolen power supply with the use of a “jumper.”
Along with four other power consumers caught using “jumpers,” Aleco had computed a total P35M in total liabilities collectible from the errant power consumers.
Power thieves and pilferers cause Aleco to suffer from 23 percent systems loss, considered to be among the highest among the power coops in the country, where only 13 percent is allowed as cap by the Energy Regulatory Board. This means that systems losses above 13 percent are passed on to the local power consumers’ monthly power bills.
Of the initial five big firms caught with jumpers, the four were composed of a 3-star hotel and restaurant reportedly owned by a congressman, a 3-star hotel owned by a Filipino-Chinese trader, another 2-star hotel, and a construction firm with batching plant owned by a party-list congressman. The establishment that was reported disconnected of its power supply last Feb. 18 is said to be owned by a congressman.
Concerned consumers said more efforts should be done to run after other power supply thieves and pilferers that abound not only in this city but in other cities and towns of Albay province.