LAST November, Central Negros Electric Cooperative (Ceneco) general manager Sulpicio Lagarde Jr. was fired because he allegedly lost the trust and confidence of the Board of Directors, two of whom including Vic Tan had only been board members for a few weeks.
This loss of confidence was allegedly due to the very high systems losses that under GM Lagarde were not being reduced.
I recall that in August 2014 Ceneco's Board passed a resolution in which those caught pilfering electricity from Ceneco would be named and shamed and would have to place advertisements in local newspapers in which they would admit to their misdemeanors. This resolution came into force on March 1, 2015. I have yet to see that the naming and shaming part of the August 2014 resolution coming into effect.
Is the Board doing its part to give the general manager the authority to deal with systems losses?
In fact, systems losses have increased to a record 14.8 percent. We, the consumers, pay for the first 13 percent. This amounts to over P1 per kilowatt hour. Ceneco has to swallow the losses above 13 percent which have to be passed on to the consumer in one way or another.
The replacement of Sulplicio Lagarde Jr. as general manager is Chuchie Destriza. She is being attacked by the Utility Consumers Alliance of Negros (UCAN) for failing to bring down the systems losses. UCAN will ask the National Electrification Administration (NEA) to disapprove the Ceneco board resolution appointing Ms Destriza as general manager.
I think this is a bit harsh. I do not think Ms Destriza should be fired but then I did not consider that Sulplicio Lagarde Jr. should have been fired either.
I believe Lagarde made an appeal against his dismissal to the NEA. Was there an outcome to this appeal?
Ceneco's propensity to get into bed with more or less anyone in the form of doubtful bilateral agreements does seem to be somewhat promiscuous. The latest lucky partner is the Aboitiz Power Corporation. Aboitiz will provide ostensibly free consultancy in return for what? We do not know the details. Business is business, however, and it seems unlikely that Aboitiz will do anything for free without expecting something in return. Will Ceneco be expected to buy electricity from Aboitiz at some time in the future? At prices higher than from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM)?
Would Ceneco, incur a tendency, no matter how slight, to lose its ability to acquire electricity at the lowest possible price? I believe it has already done so in two contracts (2007 and 2011) with Kepco-Salcon. The Energreen situation is unclear although the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) was due to have a meeting on June 14 to discuss the Energreen imbroglio.
We need more transparency from Ceneco's Board of Directors.