IN LESS than week after it hurdled the second reading, House Bill (HB) 10554, which expands the franchise area of AboitizPower subsidiary Davao Light and Power Company, hurdle the third and final reading, inching closer to becoming a law.
Once enacted into law, Davao Light's franchise area will now cover Tagum City, the Island Garden City of Samal (Igacos), Asuncion, Kapalong, New Corella, San Isidro, and Talaingod in Davao del Norte. These areas are currently covered by the Northern Davao Electric Cooperative (Nordeco), formerly Davao del Norte Electric Cooperative (Daneco).
Last year, the local government units within the expanded franchise area have expressed their intentions to leave Nordeco in favor of the privately-owned Davao Light in the hopes to get better power utility service.
“We hope Daneco will respect the decision of the people of Davao del Norte. Our people can no longer pay 2 to 3 pesos more per KWH while having more brownouts and bad service and having no representation in the board. We have given Daneco 40 years to improve, my administration even tried to dialogue with them, but they refused to recognize us,” Davao del Norte Governor Edwin Jubahib said in December 2021.
He added, “They can continue serving Davao de Oro and the other LGUs who chose to stay. The people of Davao del Norte have decided, our leaders have decided. We are appealing to Daneco, please let us go.”
Following the passing of HB 10554, Island Garden City of Samal (Igacos) Mayor Al David Uy said Samaleños will have "a brighter future" once enacted into law.
"This is the turning point in the history of Samal Island when we can now start fully realizing our potential as a tourism and investment destination," Uy said in his Facebook post on Tuesday, May 31.
Now that the bill has hurdled the third and final reading, it will now be transmitted to Malacañang for President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
Meanwhile, Nordeco said it will continue to operate within its current franchise area despite HB 10554's passage in the House of Representatves and the Senate.
In a statement on June 1, Nordeco said it will still continue to operate despite the passage of the bill because its franchise will still expire in 2028 for the mainland in Davao del Norte, while 2033 for Igacos.
"[It] shall continue to operate as the distribution utility under its franchise coverage area and shall continue to operate as the distribution utility under its franchise coverage area and shall continue to implement projects and programs to avoid unnecessary disruption of power supply and services in the Provinces of Davao de Oro and Davao del Norte," the electric cooperative said.
While it asked for the continuous support of its member-consumer-owners, Nordeco did not make it clear if it will do anything to make the transition go smoothly should the law be signed by the president.
The transition from Nordeco to Davao Light for the areas within the franchise area will take a while. Internally, there will be some things that the two power utilities will have to resolve. Likewise, it will take strong political will from the leaders of the local government units to ensure that the transition happens and goes smoothly. As for the infrastructure, there could be changes to ensure that the facilities in Davao del Norte are fitting to the current infrastructure of Davao Light's system.
Once the law is signed, let's hope that the transition will not take years.