Home Economy MORE Power eyes P1-B investment to boost Bohol services

MORE Power eyes P1-B investment to boost Bohol services

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By Justine Irish D. Tabile, Reporter

ILOILO CITY — Razon-led power distributor MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power) is looking to invest P1 billion in Bohol to enhance services in the area, its top official said.

On the sidelines of the company’s facility tour on Monday, MORE Power President and Chief Executive Officer Roel Z. Castro said that an investment of one billion pesos over the next four years would be “doable” to improve services in the area.

“Bohol is not as big as Iloilo, and when I was looking at the system, it’s not totally damaged, but it definitely needs improvement, so I am looking at about a billion (in investment),” said Mr. Castro in a mix of English and Filipino.

Mr. Castro said that the investment will cover the installation of automatic circuit reclosers (ACRs), which will ensure continuity of electric service to customers.

“Most of them (electricity distribution infrastructure) do not have ACRs, and ACRs can avert 98–99% of outages. So, the installation of those will immediately bring improvement,” he added.

A part of the investment, he said, will go to establishing a 24/7 helpline in Bohol that will address customer concerns promptly.

 “Their helpline is not that responsive yet. Here in Iloilo, if there is one thing that we really made sure of from the first day, it is our response rate, and you will see that even now,” he added.

 In April, SPC Power Corp. announced that its board of directors had cleared the sale of the company’s share in Bohol Light Co. to MORE Power’s subsidiary Primelectric Holdings, Inc.

 SPC Power holds 29.93 million shares in the power distribution utility in Tagbilaran City, which it sold at P6.67 apiece, totaling P199.5 million. 

 For Negros Occidental, Mr. Castro said that they are ready to start operating but are still waiting for their franchise to be signed.

 “The bill is in Malacañang, and I think if the president doesn’t sign it, it will lapse into law by the end of July,” he said.

 MORE Power, through Primelectric, entered a joint venture with Central Negros Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Ceneco) last year to address power issues in the province.

 Meanwhile, MORE Power’s affiliate, Negros Electric and Power Corp. (NEPC), is seeking the passage of House Bill 9805, which will grant it a congressional franchise to provide services in the area.

NEPC is structured as a 70-30 joint venture between Primelectric and Ceneco, respectively.

 The bill outlines the transfer of the franchise from Ceneco to NEPC, which will be effected via a Primelectric investment in Ceneco.

 Ceneco distributes electricity to households and establishments in the cities of Bacolod, Talisay, Silay, and Bago and the municipalities of Murcia and Don Salvador Benedicto.

Once granted the franchise, Mr. Castro said MORE Power will apply for a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN).

“I don’t know how long the ERC (Energy Regulatory Commission) will take to approve the CPCN, but we will do an early application so that they are able to go through the requirements already,” he said.

“But internally, we are ready now. We made sure that the systems, people, form, permits, and logistics were ready,” he added.

 MORE Power’s initial investment to buy the Negros Occidental distribution system was P2 billion, said Mr. Castro.

 “And then we are readying another P2.1-2.5 billion for the next five years for the improvement,” he added.

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