Bacolod City Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez has expressed his support for the three congressmen from Negros Occidental who filed a bill seeking to grant a franchise to Negros Electric and Power Corporation (NEPC) to acquire and operate the electric power distribution system in the cities of Bacolod, Silay, Talisay, and Bago, as well as the municipalities of Murcia and Don Salvador Benedicto.
Benitez said Monday, October 2, that the franchise of Central Negros Electric Cooperative Inc. (Ceneco) is about to expire, just like the action of More Power Corporation in Iloilo City, where they applied for a franchise, so that they will have certainty and legal foundation for their operation.
He said he also asked Congressman Greg Gasataya to support the bill, and he was okay with it.
"We now have four congressmen sponsoring the bill, and it’s a welcome development,” he added.
The mayor noted that if the Congress asks for the comment of the city officials, they will make an endorsement for it.
Representatives Joseph Stephen Paduano of Abang-Lingkod party-list, Juliet Marie Ferrer of the 4th District, and Francisco Benitez of the 3rd District earlier sponsored House Bill No. 9310, granting a franchise to NEPC.
Currently, the electrical distribution in the said areas is under Ceneco, and its franchise will expire in 2030.
NEPC is a sister company of MORE Electric and Power Corporation (MORE Power) in Iloilo City.
The proposed bill stated that NEPC's mission is to infuse an initial capital of P2 billion to rehabilitate and modernize electric power distribution to make it reliable and efficient for consumers, businesses, institutions, and other users within its franchise area.
Ceneco, as an electric cooperative, faces constraints due to its reliance on limited funding, no additional Capital Expenditures, and lack of access to modern technology, the bill said.
To address these concerns and pave the way for more efficient power distribution, Ceneco member-consumer-owners recently agreed to enter into a joint venture with Primelectric Holdings Incorporated/NEPC, the proposed bill further stated.
Benitez said that Primelectric Holdings had already presented its plans and proposals for the improvement of Ceneco.
"One thing that I like about this company or proponent is that they already invested money from day one. We know for a fact that for any service to be efficient and have good operations, it needs an investment,” he said.
With that kind of investment, they can guarantee better service, he said.*