Consumer group leader slams ‘one bill policy’

CITING its adverse effects to the lower income groups including informal sectors, a consumer group leader in Negros Occidental has slammed the “one bill policy” implemented by Central Negros Electric Cooperative (Ceneco).

Wennie Sancho, secretary general of Power Watch – Negros, said the move of the electric cooperative lacks sufficient consultation with member-consumers.

Sancho, also the secretary general of General Alliance of Workers Associations (Gawa), said it is untimely and inappropriate when consumers would suffer disconnection due to the policy during Christmas time.

“Before the management of Ceneco would implement strict policy measures, they should first improve their inefficient services especially in response to power outages and other problems,” he added.

Ceneco caters to the largest number of electric consumers in the province, including cities of Bacolod, Bago, Talisay and Silay, and towns of Murcia and Salvador Benedicto.

The power distribution utility, in an advisory, earlier reminded its member-consumers of the strict implementation of the “one bill policy” to avoid inconvenience caused by electric power disconnection.

Officer-in-charge general manager Lolita Jayme said paying of the bills within nine days after receipt and failure to do so would mean that consumers’ account automatically become past due.

Jayme said notice of disconnection is rendered after the due date. Disconnection of electricity service is carried out two days after the receipt of notice of disconnection, she added.

The advisory further stated that Ceneco personnel are allowed to disconnect from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays only except holidays.

For consumers to be reconnected on the same day, cut-off time for payment is 2 p.m. For payments after the cut-off time, re-connection shall be on the next day.

The utility pointed out that within 10 days after the consumer has not applied for re-connection, it shall conduct ocular inspection to prevent illegal re-connections.

“Removal of meters may be done any time after 30 days from the time the electricity service is disconnected,” it said, adding that “removal may also be carried out any time if consumer is pilfering electricity through illegal tapping to protect the cooperative and its consumers of good standing from power thieves.”

The labor leader, however, said the electric cooperative is always delayed in its services, which is poor and leaves much to be desired.

“The worst is that during brownouts, their phones keep on ringing but nobody answers,” Sancho said.

Power Watch – Negros, he said, is writing Ceneco president Dwight Carbon requesting for the revival of “transparency” meetings that was stopped without prior notice.

Power Watch – Negros will also verify the current status of the Electric Power Purchase Agreements (Eppas) with Kepco-Salcon Power Corp., Filinvest Development Corp. Utilities Inc. and Palm Concepcion Power Corp. for purposes of transparency and accountability amid allegations of “over contracting.”

“The one-month bill cut-off was arbitrary,” the consumer group leader added.


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