AKELCO, A Pillar Of Strength And Service
by Ernesto T. Solidum
AKELCO, an electric utility firm is a pillar of strength in the province of Aklan. It has consumer membership of 120,000 covering all its 17 municipalities plus two (2) towns in Northern Antique. As of 2014, the total asset stands at P1,999,723,368. A distant second is Metro Kalibo Water District (MKWD) with 20,000 member consumers located in five (5) municipalities namely: Kalibo, Banga, New Washington, Balete, and Batan.
The Cooperative has become a monolithic organization governing its own affairs – planning, operating and maintaining distribution lines as it receives power from National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).
By inference, it yields monopoly power by buying electricity from Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), the act termed in economies as monopsony and selling the product to the consuming public. This is done by an army of highly trained service crew, linemen and supervisors working night and day to bring electricity to remote areas. For this service efficiency, collection of the cooperative for the last two (2) decades is almost 100 percent.
An independent Auditors’ Report of AKELCO’s financial statement by Alba Romeo and Co. shows that revenue from operations is P2,025,238,365 in 2014. The breakdown shows that residential is P775,971,000 or 38.3 percent, commercial – P1,118,662,869 (55%), industrial – P12,822,509 (0.63%), public buildings and facilities – P111,216,320 (5.49%), and public streets, irrigation and highway lighting – P6,565,667 (0.32%).
From the above data, bulk of revenues come from commercial and residential establishments (93.5%) while industry or manufacturing sector is less than one (1) percent. The reason is obvious. High cost of electricity that prevails in the country scares away local and foreign investors. This is regardless of the huge allocation for infra development, highly skilled and motivated labor force.
In the US where supply of natural gas, oil and coal are largely untapped, tendency is to exploit them to the fullest because of relatively lower cost compared to solar and wind powers. Accent is no more jobs generation. Besides, they have the comparative advantage to tap one of the biggest water resources – Niagara Falls for hydro power generation. Installation of nuke power plant is still vigorously pursued despite skyrocketing cost of $10 billion each.
If AKELCO could not reduce its astronomical electricity rate currently at almost P9.00 per kwh to a reasonable level, then Aklan could not embark on a plan to industrialize even in a small scale.
One nagging question is how can our products compete in an Asean economic Community when Indonesia subsidizes 60 percent of the power cost to consumers. Presently, the Philippines has the highest cost of electricity for residential establishments in the world and commercial rate second, after Singapore.
Given this bleak background our capacity to compete in the 600 million Asean market remains untenable. Of the 10 member countries, perhaps we can be comfortable bonding with losers like Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.
Regarding the 32nd Annual General Membership Assembly (AGMA) held June 6, 2015 at ABL Sports Complex, it was an impressive display of unity and strength when some 10,500 people attended. The theme is “Strengthening the Spirit of Cooperative Through Excellent Service.” Engr. Edilberto I. Base, NEA Deputy Administrator for Field Operation delivered the keynote speech.
A business meeting followed after the lengthy opening ceremonies. Proceedings were hardly intelligible to the audience due to poor acoustics and unavoidable noise interference from a large gathering. At any rate, the reading of previous minutes of AGMA, report of BOD and GM were well appreciated.
For the sake of transparency and accountability, AKELCO must explain the unavailability of Masterlist of Consumer Meter Depostie Account which has an outstanding balance of P15,111,493 as of December 2014 according to the Auditors’ Report.
The Cooperative must implement RA 9944 or Expanded Senior Citizens Act giving five (5) percent deduction on electric bills less than 100 kwh and water bills – 30 cubic meters. There is no reason why the statute could not be implemented when 25 percent of our population is living below the poverty line.
With operation of Nabas Windfarm providing initial output of 36 MW starting this month of June to the NGCP transmission grid, it is expected by consumer members to have less brownouts and blackouts. It appears that AKELCO has not fully replaced old wooden poles with better ones made of aluminum.
It is noted that AKELCO has a centralized equipment and supply depot in Lezo. If a tripping incident happens in Altavas or Buruanga it would take at least 2 hours before crewmembers and lineman arrive at the scene to fix the trouble. It is recommended that 4 mobile crews must be organized to be deployed in strategic service areas namely: a) Malay, Nabas, Ibajay, and Buruanga; b) Banga, Balete, Altavas, Batan; c) Malinao, Madalag, and Libacao; and d) Pandan, and Libertad in Antique. Their mission is only to provide immediate service in times of emergencies.
Indeed AKELCO has achieved prominence because of its dedicated workforce and instituted support of its member-consumer. Appreciation could be bestowed on the National Electrification Administration (NEA) for providing financial and managerial leadership. Her adopted slogan is “Bringing You Light, Serving You Right.” /MP