NEA takes over Abrae electric coop to avert power crisis

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The National Electrification Administration (NEA) took over the management and operation of the Abra Electric Cooperative (Abreco) on Friday morning, Feb. 9, effectively deactivating the Abreco Board of Directors and suspending general manager Loreto Seares Jr.

But Abra Gov. Jocelyn Bernos said NEA Administrator Edgardo Masongsong had assured her of continued power supply to Abreco’s customers in the province.

“We give the NEA the chance to do what they can do. Anyway, they have the expertise and the knowledge on how to address the problems of Abreco,” Bernos told the Philippine News Agency (PNA) in an interview.

For years, Abreco has been saddled with financial woes.

“I feel sorry for what happened [take-over], but this is a leader’s decision that has to be done so that the whole province will not encounter a bigger problem,” said Bernos.

She described NEA’s takeover of Abreco as “the best solution at the moment” and “beneficial to the whole province of Abra”.

According to the governor, the Wholesale Energy Spot Market (WESM) office has informed Abreco that it would cut the supply of power of Abra effective 12 noon on Monday, Feb. 12.

Upon learning this, she said, she immediately got in touch with NEA.

“There are no electric power providers who want to supply to Abreco anymore and we did not have a choice but to ask the help of the authority in the industry,” Bernos said, explaining why she approached NEA.

According to her, Abrenios have given Abreco the chance to settle its financial woes. But affecting the whole province like power being cut-off, disrupting businesses and inconveniencing the residents, is something the local officials will not take sitting down, she said.

Due to Abreco’s cash problems, its former power provider, Aboitiz Power Resources Inc. (APRI), had terminated its contract with the local utility firm, which later turned to WESM for supply.

Due to unsettled arrears, WESM demanded payment from Abreco by sending the notice of disconnection effective noon of Monday.

“We just wanted to make sure that the problems, which were foreseen, will be prevented, that is why we asked the presence of the police,” she said.

The governor said it has been years that Abra was encountering power supply problems with Abreco, such that power was being disconnected for days, disrupting business operations and even the resident’s everyday living.

It was learned that the NEA had earlier also formed a Task Force composed of electric cooperative managers in the country, including Beneco General Manager Gerardo Verzosa, who was instrumental in fixing Baguio-Benguet’s power problems in the past. Beneco is now one of the top electric distribution utilities in the country. (PNA)

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