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PECO invested P1.8 billion on network improvements

By Myrna M. Velasco

Panay Electric Company (PECO) poured in P1.8 billion worth of investments to upgrade, reinforce and expand its power distribution network in Iloilo City and sustained such asset base within the life of its public utility franchise, according to Marcelo U. Cacho, administrative manager of the company.

The firm said it bankrolled bulk of capital investments in key projects, including its substation facilities; while it debunked allegations that its facilities are already out-of-shape or of “decrepit” state.

The capital expenditure (capex) spending of the utility firm had been spent for various projects, namely: substation facilities for P260 million; primary line and line hardware for P253.439 million; sub-transmission lines and line hardware amounting to P131 million; and then for poles reinforcement and replacement for P103 million.

The rest of its capital outlay had been injected for the construction of a new building costing P80 million; distribution transformers worth P66 million; secondary lines and hardware for P53 million; installation of new and additional meters for P45 million; energy management control (EMC) systems for P27.66 million; diversion road clearing project for P26 million; purchase of vehicles to support its operations for P16.82 million; and the installation of information technology (IT) equipment and software for P15.70 million.

The company said it also installed smart meters and distribution reclosers – all in keeping with advanced technology deployments so its customers can be served better. In particular, the smart meters had been deployed to intelligently equip its customers on fully understanding their bills; and how they can be aided in matching consumption with their budgets.

The incessant rise in the number of customers served by PECO; coupled with the growth in power demand which tripled from 1994 to 2019 warranted continuous investments from the company – and those capital spending had to go through the approval of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC). By far, it said that such disproves allegations of non-investments in the past 40 to 50 years, otherwise, the distribution system of PECO should have already collapsed long before because technologies could only operate viably within their life cycles.

Engineer Aldren Deleste, Operations Manager for Planning of the company, explained that “if equipment were installed in the 1950s and 1960s as per MORE’s allegation, these equipment would have been long dead and non-functional.”
Cacho similarly set the record straight that Miescor, which had been claimed to have done study and assessment on the condition of the facilities of PECO is not their affiliate company, as alleged by More Electric and Power Corporation, the company that took over their assets while Court expropriation proceedings are still ongoing. “MIESCOR is not PECO’s sister company since it is a wholly owned subsidiary of MERALCO (Manila Electric Company),” he stressed.

He also emphasized that “MORE did not replace the switchboard nor substation transformers as claimed.” And the recurring brownouts in Iloilo could also be attributed to the fact that MORE had not kept its promise that it will be “providing mobile substations during their scheduled maintenance shutdown” to prevent brownout predicaments for Iloilo City customers.

It was further indicated that “all these current long outages under MORE could have been avoided, as shown in PECO’s track record with the proper technical expertise in place and properly planned and executed activities to avoid the long outages.”

The most recent brownout reported in the area was on the evening of May 27 in Arevalo town – and such incident along with the previous ones prompted consumers to storm social media platforms with their complaints.

PECO reiterated that it needed to continually invest at its service area throughout the life of its franchise from 1994 to 2019, as its customer count steadily increased through the years; and that was coupled with power supply build up being fed into its load network.

According to the company, the customers it had been catering to in 1994 was at a leaner base of 43,804; then that expanded by more than 20,500 to 64,397 as of mid-2018 or prior to the expiration of its 25-year franchise.

PECO said the growth in customers as well as the increase in peak demand of its service area which topped 116.1 megawatts in 2018 – or more than triple from 35.7 megawatts in 1994, warranted those investments in more than two decades.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://business.mb.com.ph/2020/05/29/peco-invested-p1-8-billion-on-network-improvements/)

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