Saying that electric cooperatives (ECs) must live up to the definition of the second word in their names, National Electrification Administration (NEA) chief Edgardo Masongsong strongly encouraged all community-owned power distribution utilities to work together and pool their resources to aid struggling co-ops.
Masongsong made the statement at the 3rd Association of Mindanao Rural Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (Amreco) Annual General Membership Assembly and Summit held recently in Cagayan de Oro City, where he outlined anew the continuing challenges facing the rural electrification sector, including the need to address persistent complaints of inefficiency among underperforming ECs.
“Your NEA calls on you to be ever aggressive in the aim of being globally competitive electric cooperatives.”
The NEA chief expressed his desire for well-off cooperatives to help the government find more creative solutions to the lingering problems besetting the industry, including the constant threat of a private company taking over the franchise of an ailing EC.
“Endeavor all the more to be operationally viable, efficient and effective distribution utilities.”
He cited the case of the Albay Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Aleco), which is presently being managed and operated by the Albay Power and Energy Corp. (APEC), and the Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Zamcelco), which is currently under an investment management contract (IMC) scheme.
Contrary to popular opinion, Masongsong believes subjecting financially distressed ECs to outright privatization is not the only way to turn things around for struggling co-ops and further broached the idea that an EC-to-EC takeover might be a better option.
“If possible, let us all be of help to one another, raise our own funds so that we can offer our services to electric cooperatives requiring investment management contract (IMC) before anybody else,” the NEA chief said.
Of the 121 ECs operating in the country, 11 are categorized as “ailing,” including five in Mindanao namely the Basilan Electric Cooperative, Inc., Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative, Inc., Maguindanao Electric Cooperative, Inc., Sulu Electric Cooperative, Inc., and the Tawi-Tawi Electric Cooperative, Inc.
Masongsong, in his speech, also renewed his call on the ECs to continue looking for innovative approaches to run the power distribution utilities more efficiently and effectively with better business organization mindset.
“As our partners in rural electrification, your NEA calls on you to be ever aggressive in the aim of being globally competitive electric cooperatives and endeavor all the more to be operationally viable, efficient and effective distribution utilities to be able to render the maximum benefit and quality, world-class service to our empowered member-consumer-owners (MCOs),” he said.
Meanwhile, Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno in his welcome remarks commended the ECs in their continuing efforts to electrify remote and inaccessible communities, saying energization requires “commitment, determination and professionalism.”