‘PUBLIC SAFETY HAZARD’: ERC investigates pole fires in Iloilo City

first_imgIt added: “Thereis no mystery whether something is happening behind the scenes — decay ishappening. Anything not maintained and rehabilitated will naturally go intodecline over time. When did PECO actually spend for expansion and upgrades notonly to accommodate the growing power needs of the city but to improve itsservices to the ordinary Ilonggo?” In 2016, therewere 453 reported fire incidents, 360 of which were caused by faulty electricalconnections and 303 of pole fires.  Treñas asked theOffice of the President to address the mounting complaints against PECO, citingseven fire incidents involving its electricity poles from Oct. 19 to 21 alonebased on BFP’s report to the Iloilo City Hall. Instead ofpointing fingers and spewing conspiracy theories, PECO should take a hard lookat itself and start asking the real hard question, “Are they now reaping whatthey sowed?”, MORE Power further said. In 2017, therewere 361 fires caused by faulty electrical connections and 275 polefires.  “A quick touraround the city would reveal spaghetti lines, lopsided poles, and electricmeters stuck in electric poles from top to bottom which frankly triggertrypophobia. A picture of disaster waiting to happen,” MORE Power stressed. Treñas said ERCis the appropriate agency to handle consumers’ complaints against PECO becauseit has disciplinary powers. “We no longerhave to accept these fires as a typical occurrence around the city. We now havean option. There is a new distribution utility looming to take over to deliverwhat PECO failed to provide its consumers — better customer relations,adequately maintained lines, adequate investment in distribution facilities,less distributor-related power outages, prompt restoration of power services,and MOREKOREK billings,” stressed MORE Power. Perhaps thereason why the recent fires were getting more attention than the fires in thepast few years was the fact that Ilonggos no longer have to make do with PECO’sinept services, MORE Power added. PECO’s franchiseexpired on Jan. 19, 2019 and was not granted another one by Congress due tonumerous consumer complaints arising from its ageing distribution system,including leaning electric poles, spaghetti-like hanging electricity lines,overbilling and unprofessional handling of consumer complaints. MORE: NUMBERS DON’T LIE From January toOct. 27 of this year, BFP recorded 200 incidents of pole fires in thecity. ILOILO City – TheEnergy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has started investigating the complaint ofMayor Jerry Treñas on the possible threat to public safety of“inadequately-maintained lines, power outages and hazardous electric posts”owned by franchise-less Panay Electric Co. (PECO). It conducted a hearing lastweek and received a briefing from the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP).center_img The tolerance ofillegal connections or “jumper” is also a culprit to the fires caused by faultyelectrical connections, it added.In the ERC hearing, BFP clarified that only electrical cables could cause firesand not telephone or cable TV wires, contrary to PECO’s justification. Franchise holderMORE Power said in a statement, “With the almost simultaneous electricpole fires in the city, the question that should be asked is: Why are we notsurprised?” “Due to theworsening turn of events, the undersigned is obliged to take the necessarysteps to address the needs of the people considering that the problems andcomplaints raised against PECO have a direct impact not only on the propertybut also on the lives of the residents of Iloilo City,” Treñas stated in hiscomplaint. In its reportsubmitted to Treñas and ERC, BFP stated that from Oct. 1 to 27alone, there were 12 incidents of pole fires. BFP RECORDS “While theattention of PECO had been repeatedly called [by the Office of the City Mayor]to address the [complaints,] the city is still plagued by the same problems,”the mayor added. It lamented theinsinuations of PECO as answer to these fire incidents, “It is amusingthat PECO’s head of Public Engagement and Government Affairs, Marcelo Cacho,said he was ‘indignant for the people of Iloilo’ and was wondering if there issomething happening behind the scenes, a sabotage, so to speak.” In 2018, 301fires were caused by faulty electrical connections and 233 are pole fires, andas of Oct. 27, 2019, there were already 253 fire incidents caused by faultyelectrical connections and 200 pole fires. That is an average of 28 fireincidents caused by faulty electrical connections per month. According to the BFP, the reasons for these incidents were dilapidated andageing wooden poles and electrical wires and overloaded transformers of the 95years old power utility PECO. An electric pole of Panay Electric Co. catches fire in Iloilo City. In its report to the Energy Regulatory Commission, the Bureau of Fire Protection stated that from Oct. 1 to 27, 2019 alone, there were 12 incidents of pole fires in the city. PECO continues tobe the power distributor in Iloilo City by virtue of a provisional Certificateof Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) issued by ERC as provided in thefranchise of MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power) as new power distributorto ensure uninterrupted service to consumers during the two-year transitionperiod. PECO filedseveral court cases against MORE Power’s expropriation of its distributionassets. The new distribution utility aims to take over the system and implementa P1.7-billion improvement and rehabilitation within five years./PNlast_img

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