• Cash-strapped power firm goes on the block

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    LEGAZPI CITY: A week after the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) plunged Albay in darkness for the local power utilities cooperative’s failure to settle its P59-million debts last month, the ailing cooperative foes up for bidding on Wednesday.

    Ma. Alvie Boral, Albay Electric Cooperative public information officer said that four major companies expressed willingness to join the bidding and carry out a rehabilitation of the criminally mismanaged cooperative.

    The bidders include Aboitiz, Meralco and San Miguel Corp.

    Aboitiz operates the Tiwi geothermal plant, and SMC, owns NGCP and is a partner of Aboitiz.

    The auction is set at Venezia Hotel on Wednesday afternoon with opposition blocs expected to attend to block the privatization deal. Opposition blocs are pushing for coop-to-coop management while majority of local officials and concurrent interim board officials support a PSP scheme.

    The private-sector-partnership (PSP) management is being pushed by Bishop Joel “Bong” Baylon to solve the problem. The PSP route draws support from Gov. Joey Salceda of Albay, Rep. Fernando Gonzalez of the (Third District) Mayor Noel Rosal of Legazpi City and other local officials in Albay.

    Salceda is pushing for Aleco privatization to ensure continuous supply of power in the province and to ease the never-ending disconnection threat by power suppliers on the bankrupt cooperative.

    The governor said that he supported the National Electric Administration-managed privatiza-tion to ensure continuous supply of power.

    “Let us support a private management for Aleco. No privatization of ownership of any kind must be considered at this time. Aleco ownership shall be retained totally by its member consumers during the duration of the management contract,” Gonzalez said.

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