More power to the province

By Herbert Vego

FIFTEEN towns and a component city in the province of Iloilo may now choose between their existing electricity distributor, Iloilo Electric Cooperative (ILECO), and upcoming alternative MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power).

That was the “next picture” announced at the session hall of the Senate the other day with the approval on third reading of the bill (HB 10306) granting MORE Power extending its franchise outside of Iloilo City with 17 affirmative votes against only negative vote.

As this corner has repeatedly enumerated, MORE Power’s new areas of operation would cover the towns of Alimodian, Leganes, Leon, New Lucena, Pavia, San Miguel, Santa Barbara, and Zarraga in the Second District of Iloilo; and Anilao, Banate, Barotac Nuevo, Dingle, Duenas, Dumangas, San Enrique and Passi City in the Fourth District.

However, its expected approval by President Rodrigo Duterte anytime soon would not deprive ILECO of its own franchise.  It simply seeks to augment the fledgling capacity of the latter to fill the power requirements of the aforesaid territories.

To quote MORE lawyer Alyana Babayen-on, “This is for the protection of the customers. Based on finding by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), 40 percent of the people thereat would welcome the entry of MORE.”

It must be because they are saddled with “electrifying” bills.

MORE now charges the cheapest rates at an average of   ₱7.22 per kilowatt-hour, which is cheaper than the ₱12 to ₱13/kWh charged by the three ILECO branches.

In Metro Manila, the average rate of Meralco stands at 10/kWh

No doubt it would also be advantageous to ILECO employees who could not cope with their volume of work due to lack of manpower and mobile equipment.

“We would prefer to hire transferees from ILECO,” Babayen-on told us, “because they are already familiar with the terrain.”

Incidentally, most of MORE’s technical men were absorbed from the previous city franchisee, Panay Electric Co. (PECO).

The expansion would not violate ILECO’s non-exclusive franchise, Babayen-on assured.  Its member consumers would merely have the option to choose which of the two players to patronize. MORE is prepared to spend ₱1.5 billion for its expansion, which would enable it to put up its own facilities.

Should ILECO desire, however, MORE Power would be willing to go into joint venture within the municipalities covered by the expansion law, according to the latter’s president and chief operating officer Roel Z. Castro.

“We are willing to collaborate,” he said, “as long as it is beneficial to the consumers. With MORE Power comes great sustainability.”



KUDOS to re-elected Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas. His turf is probably the fastest-growing metropolis in the Philippines today.

We recently had the opportunity to interview the mayor on the on-going projects that keep city personnel busy these days. The biggest of them all is the reconstruction of three public markets in the districts of La Paz, Jaro and Arevalo. He expects them to compete with the privately-owned malls, especially because each will be provided with parking spaces.

Two other public markets – the Central and Terminal (Super) markets – will likewise be reconstructed on grander scale through public-private partnership (PPP) in collaboration with SM Prime Holdings

“We resort to PPP,” the mayor said, “because the city would not be spending money for their construction. Our vendors occupying stalls have nothing to worry.  They will not be dislodged; they will be occupying the ground floor under the management of the Local Economic Enterprise Office.”

The biggest project on the city’s drawing board is a reclamation area to be done on PPP scheme, too. The reclamation site will not be conjoined to an existing beachfront but will have to rise as an independent island connected by bridge.

It’s a good idea, since our city has a land area of only 7,000 hectares.  An additional 200 hectares on reclaimed island would attract more residents, businessmen and tourists.

Aside from the Sy family who owns SM, Treñas said that other multi-billionaires are coming to build commercial establishments. A few days ago, Fernando Zobel de Ayala, paid a courtesy call to the mayor.

A dialysis center with 14 stations at barangay San Isidro is now under contraction to serve the needs kidney patients, especially the poor who can’t afford regular dialysis sessions,

The mayor’s dream of having a city hospital is no longer a dream. Construction is ready to be bid out.