By Reuel John F. Lumawag
AN executive of AboitizPower subsidiary Davao Light and Power Company said should Congress grant their expanded franchise area, power rates in some parts of Davao del Norte could possibly decrease.
On December 1, the House of Representatives approved on second reading House Bill (HB) 10554 expanding the franchise area of Davao Light to include Tagum City, the Island Garden City of Samal (Igacos), Asuncion, Kapalong, New Corella, San Isidro, and Talaingod in Davao del Norte and Maco in Davao de Oro. At present, the franchise area of Davao Light only covers Davao City and Panabo City, Carmen, Dujali, and Sto. Tomas in Davao del Norte.
DLPC President and Chief Operating Officer Rodger S. Velasco said in an interview with the press on December 15, 2021 that there is a P2 to P3 difference between the power rates of Davao Light and the Northern Davao Electric Cooperative (Nordeco). He said the residential rate in the Davao Light franchise area is currently at P9/kWh to P10/kWh.
Meanwhile, based on the data of the Department of Energy (DOE) as of March 2020, the average power rate of Davao Light is at P7.1961/kWH while Nordeco’s is at P9.8347/kWH. Data also shows that Nordeco, then the Davao del Norte Electric Cooperative (Daneco), has the highest average power rate in the region while Davao Light had the lowest.
Currently, over 40 percent of Davao Light’s power supply is coming from the cheaper hydropower sources — the Agus and Pulangi Hyrdopower Complexes and from the Hedcor hydropower plants in Davao City and Davao del Sur.
Meanwhile, Velasco assured that should congress grant them the expanded franchise area, around 70 megawatts (MW) of demand will be added to the current 460MW to 470MW demand of Davao Light’s current franchise area.
However, he said there is no need for those in the current franchise area to worry about the power supply.
Velasco said Mindanao currently enjoys an oversupply of power. Based on DOE’s data as of December 15, Mindanao had a gross reserve of 1,249.
“Oversupply ang Mindanao, we can always buy,” Velasco said.
As for the local power facilities and infrastructure, Velasco said Davao Light will conduct an assessment once they are granted the additional franchise area. He said they will improve on existing facilities in the area.
Several local government units covered by Nordeco have appealed to the electric cooperative to allow them to switch to another power distributor.
The provincial government of Davao del Norte, along with the city councils of Tagum and Island Garden City of Samal, as well as the municipal councils of Kapalong, Talaingod, San Isidro, and New Corella passed resolutions supporting their exit from Daneco.
“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 on 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 a statement earlier.
HB 10554, which expands the franchise area of Davao Light, was authored by Palawan Representative Franz Alvarez, Committee on Legislative Franchises chairperson, along with Mindanawon Representatives including Davao del Norte Representative Pantaleon Alvarez, PBA Partylist Representative Jericho Nograles, and Camiguin Representative Xavier Romualdo. Manila Fourth District Representative Edward Maceda also sponsored the bill.
The proposed law will be amending Republic Act No. 11515, which extends Davao Light’s franchise to another 25 years.
The proposed bill, once approved, will only allow Nordeco to operate “not longer than the two years from the approval of the expanded territory of this legislative franchise.”
“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,” Jubahib said. RJL