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House committee approves NEPC franchise

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• GILBERT P. BAYORAN

The proposed franchise of the Negros Electric and Power Corporation (NEPC) inches closer towards passage in the House of Representatives after it gained approval at the Committee on Legislative Franchise on December 13.

In a press briefing yesterday, Abang Lingkod Rep. Stephen Joseph Paduano said that the committee unanimously approved the granting of franchise to NEPC, with minor amendments.

House Bill 9310, coauthored by Paduano, Reps. Jose Francisco Benitez, Juliet Marie Ferrer and Greg Gasataya, will enable NEPC to establish and maintain an electric power distribution system in key cities such as Bacolod, Silay, Talisay, and Bago, as well as in the municipalities of Murcia and Don Salvador Benedicto — all in the province of Negros Occidental — and ensure a continuous and uninterrupted supply of electricity in the franchise area.

When Congress resumes its regular session in January, Paduano said the bill is expected to be discussed in the plenary for second reading. If there are no questions, interpellation, or amendments, it will be up for third and final reading approval by the House of Representatives, he added.

Under the new company, 30 percent of the ownership will be retained by CENECO, while Primelectric/NEPC will purchase 70 percent of its assets.

NEPC is an affiliate company of MORE Power, which serves Iloilo City.

MORE Power president Roel Castro earlier said that they are confident they can improve service quality given the track record of MORE Power in Iloilo City.

“We aim to do the same in Negros,” Castro said.

Upon the approval of the NEPC franchise by the House of Representatives, it will be forwarded to the Senate for a counterpart bill.

Paduano said he will discuss it with Senator Grace Poe, who chairs the Senate committee on Public Services.

The solon is hoping  that it will be approved in the Senate by February next year, and will most likely be signed by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. by April, if all goes well.*

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