Despite the recent settlement over Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative, Inc.’s (ZAMCELCO) debt to local electricity provider Western Mindanao Power Corporation (WMPC), the city of Zamboanga might still not receive reliable and sustainable power.
According to an open letter by a local citizen addressed to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), Zamcelco used questionable lease processes in bringing in diesel gensets to power the city for 60 days to address the then-power supply shortage before the agreement was made with WMPC.
Atty. Wendell F. Sotto, a lawyer based in Zamboanga, further asked the regulatory body to probe the procurement process for the gensets, claiming that these gensets will bring more suffering to the residents through pass on costs and higher electricity rates.
“With these gensets, it is obvious that it is ultimately the consumers who will be paying for the rentals of the gensets aside from the use thereof by way of an increase or added generation fees in our monthly billings,” Sotto said.
Aside from the expensive electricity price, Sotto also asked the ERC to investigate if there is a certificate of compliance (COC) for these gensets.
ERC officers have confirmed that Zamcelco was issued a COC only for its eight units at 2 MW modular gensets. But there was no COC issued for the gensets that were recently installed and operated. Application has never been filed, as well.
“If the use of the gensets violates the law and the rules, I humbly request your good office to ensure that the consumers of Zamboanga City not be made to pay the consequences of these violations by Crown or ZAMCELCO,” Sotto said.
Sotto also alleged in his letter that there was no power supply agreement or any competitive bidding that took place for these gensets.
As a result, consumers are not assured that they are getting the cheapest electricity available.
Sotto added that there seems to be a conflict of interest with the operation of these gensets.
“It has also been widely discussed that the owner of the diesel gensets is Desco, Inc., who is Crown’s joint venture partner to form the investor-manager of ZAMCELCO. Unless Desco is providing the gensets for free, there may be a conflict of interest since it will certainly profit from the arrangement,” he said.