Negros Occidental

Razon group gets franchise to boost Negros Occidental power distribution

Erwin Delilan

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Razon group gets franchise to boost Negros Occidental power distribution

SHOWCASE. A scale model of Negros Electric and Power Corporation facilities is displayed at a mall in Bacolod, showcasing state-of-the-art power distribution system.

Erwin Delilan/Rappler

Billionaire Enrique K. Razon's group will invest more than P2 billion in a merger aimed at improving power distribution in Negros Occidental

BACOLOD, Philippines – The Senate approved on Monday, May 20, a franchise for the Enrique K. Razon-led Negros Electric and Power Corporation (NEPC) as the group moves to invest over P2 billion and take control of local power distribution in four cities and two towns in Negros Occidental.

Currently, the ailing Central Negros Electric Cooperative (CENECO) distributes electricity to more than 170,000 households and establishments in the cities of Bacolod, Talisay, Silay, and Bago, and the towns of Murcia and Don Salvador Benedicto in Negros Occidental.

In a 22-1 vote on Monday, May 20, the Senate adopted House Bill No. 9805, which passed the House of Representatives in February. Only Senator Risa Hontiveros voted against it.

In August 2023, Primelectric Holdings Incorporated of the Razon Group of Companies (RGC), and CENECO agreed on a joint venture. The agreement gave Primelectric a 70% stake in the merger, while the 46-year-old cooperative retained a 30% share.

The joint venture agreement also allowed Primelectric to handle the local power distribution operations in the four Negros Occidental cities and two towns.

The Primelectric-CENECO agreement followed a three-weekend plebiscite, supervised by the National Electrification Administration (NEA), in June and August 2023. Of the 177,737 people who voted, 98,591 favored the agreement, while only 6,854 objected to it.

Arnel Lapore, CENECO general manager, welcomed the grant of a congressional franchise to NEPC, saying they were looking forward to President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. signing it.

Lapore said the measure would result in efficient and reliable power distribution services for Negrenses and Bacoleños.

He said a transition process would begin after Malacanang’s green light as it waits to secure a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessities (CPCN) from the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

According to Lapore, Primelectric would infuse some P2.1 billion to upgrade CENECO’s equipment and facilities.

Wennie Sancho, secretary general of the consumers’ group Power Watch Negros (PWN), said her group was expecting the full rehabilitation of the local power distribution system from the “inside and outside.”

“We hope for a new systemic upgrade of all the old and dilapidated equipment and facilities of CENECO like the substations, lines, and transformers, among others,” said Sancho, adding that local power consumers had already suffered much due to the frequent power outages within the cooperative’s franchise area.

“We’re happy that the Senate finally gave its nod to the NEPC franchise. This is a welcome development for the business sector,” Frank Carbon, chief executive officer of the Metro Bacolod Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MBCCI), said on Tuesday, May 21.

He said the local business group was optimistic that the Primelectric-CENECO joint venture would significantly improve local electricity distribution and attract more investors, especially in the local power industry. –

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