Come September 14, 2013, Albay Electric Cooperative (Aleco) consumers will have to choose between private sector participation (PSP) scheme or allowing another electric cooperative (known as “Co-op to Co-op”) to run the troubled electric power distributor in Albay according to reports. But will the options promise to “fix” the troubled Aleco?
There are five major modes of running an electric distribution company. The unique one is having it run by the National Electrification Administration (NEA) as in the case of Aleco; through the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA)-registered Board as in the case of Sorsogon Electric Cooperative (SORECO) II; through a NEA-registered Board under the Cooperative which is the case of almost 90% of electric cooperatives in the Philippines; through an investment management contractor (IMC), and; through privatization such as the Manila Electric Company (MERALCO). Co-op to Co-op, in a way, may be classified under the IMC as in the case of Bohol Electric Cooperative (BOHECO) II which manages BOHECO I.
In whatever mode an electric power distribution company or cooperative is run, its performance is always determined by politicization, or the lack of it. This explains why Bohol Lights, the electric power service provider of Tagbilaran City which was once owned by the provincial government of Bohol, was transferred to the consortium owned by Salcon in December 1999 through a Rehabilitate-Own-Operate-Maintain and Manage Scheme (ROOMM). But even the Bohol Lights under Salcon did not perform as expected because of insider reports that some local politicians are still meddling in the affairs of the company. SORECO II, a cooperative under CDA, is also under-performing because of some interference from local politicians. Without going any further, we also have ALECO, now being managed by NEA, the national agency that regulates, supposedly expert in managing, electric cooperatives.
The good ones, meanwhile, like BOHECO II and the Cebu-based electric cooperatives (CEBECOs) perform well because of the lack of political interference.
In simple terms, whatever ALECO consumers choose between PSP or Co-op to Co-op, if the local politicians will not refrain from meddling in the management of the cooperative, nothing will happen to change the electric cooperative’s fate. Instead, it will be just the same horror story but in a different level.