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ERC urged: Reveal Nordeco’s violations

TAGUM CITY, Davao del Norte–A Davao del Norte consumer group has urged the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to reveal what reports the North Davao Electric Cooperative (Nordeco) has been withholding from the government and to its consumers as the ERC has initially imposed a P700,000 on the cooperative for failing to submit uniform reportorial requirements (URR).

Ave Rose Castillo, convenor of the DavNor Modernization Movement, said that the cooperative has been hiding these problems from the consumers, among them the failure to submit reportorial requirements to concerned agencies.

The ERC is the constitutional body tasked with approving rates of electric cooperatives and in the process, monitoring their financial and operational performance.

Aside from the fine, the bigger question, Castillo added, was the refusal of the cooperative to produce the report. “What is it hiding from the ERC?” she quipped as the fine covered the failure of the entity to produce the reports between January 2012 until October 2018.

The ERC, in its November 16, 2021 ruling, even said that in its February 2019 letter, Nordeco even claimed it had completed the URRs for 2012 until 2013, and between January and October 2018, while it was still completing the 2014 until 2017 as it was “still  in  the  process  of  retrieving  the  pertinent data/information  from its records.”

The ruling was the result of the evaluation of the show cause orders (SCO) that the regulator imposed on the cooperative.

“Given that the SCO issued under the instant case covers the period  up  to  October  2018  only,  the  Commission’s  decision  in  this regard  is  without  prejudice  to  the  issuance  of  additional  SCOs  and penalties,  as  may  be  warranted,  for  infractions  committed  beyond October 2018,”

Castillo said the fine was hefty and that it was “significant especially in light of the hardships brought on by the continuing pandemic as well as the rising prices of fuel.”

She quizzed the electric cooperative on whether the amount will be passed on to its consumers. “This amount could have also been spent for upgrades and equipment as well as salaries of Daneco employees, but instead it will be used to pay fines which could have easily been avoided had Daneco been more efficient in its operations.”

“We hope Daneco will not shirk responsibility from this enormous blunder. The people deserve better service from its electricity provider.

The cooperative has been trying to fend off the proposal for it to abandon the remaining areas of Davao del Norte and Maco in Davao de Oro as franchise area and turn it over to Davao Light and Power Co. which is servicing Davao City, Panabo City, the towns of Sto. Tomas, Carmen and Braulio Dujali also in Davao del Norte.

The proposal has been gaining traction after the House of Representatives approved it and turned it over to the scrutiny of the Senate for it to concur.

Just before the end of 2018, the ERC issued SCOs for Nordeco to submit in 15 days its explanation. “under oath, “why no administrative penalty should be imposed upon it for possible violation” of the resolution requiring distribution utilities to submit URRs which has been required since 2012.”

Under the policy a particular URR must submitted every 30th of the month “following the period being reported” as the submission must be in “electronic copy, with scanned supporting documents, such as power suppliers’ invoices, transmission invoice, consumer bills, among others, attached to each submission.”

The ERC found the explanation of the cooperative “without merit” because, “upon review of its (ERC) records, found that Daneco (Nordec) did not submit any URR since January 2012.”

It even added that it was lenient that it allowed distribution utilities to submit their reports annually by consolidating their reports for the year.

“The public interest in granting such leniency, however, cannot extend to DUs that have incomplete submissions or those that did not submit consolidated annual report for each year. Such cannot be countenanced and the DUs concerned shall be held administratively liable for their violation of the Commission’s Rules,” it added.

The ERC said that it considered the non-submission of the report, annually if not possible in monthly basis, as a single violation for the year.

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