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NEPC franchise approved by House on 2nd reading

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• GILBERT P. BAYORAN

Abang Lingkod Rep. Stephen Joseph Paduano yesterday said he is optimistic that the House of Representatives will approve the granting of a franchise to the Negros Electric and Power Corporation (NEPC) to operate an electrical power distribution system in central Negros, before Congress will adjourn its session on March 22.

This was after the House of Representatives yesterday approved on second reading the granting of a franchise to NEPC, after the Committee on Legislative Franchises led by Paranaque 2nd District Rep. Gus Tambunting presented Committee Report No. 936 in the plenary and pushed for its approval.

The measure aims to grant a franchise to NEPC, as it seeks to become the power distributor in Bacolod City, Bago, Silay, and Talisay, as well as in the municipalities of Murcia and Don Salvador Benedicto, in the province of Negros Occidental.

After approval by the House of Representatives, it will be forwarded to the Senate for sponsorship, said Paduano, who is among authors of the proposed bill.

In a press statement it issued earlier, NEPC said it is hoping to provide a “cheaper, more efficient, and eco-friendly” electric supply to Negros and “ensure a continuous and uninterrupted supply of electricity in the franchise area.”

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

During the debate in the plenary,  Tambunting, who chairs the Legislative and Franchises Committee, emphasized that the Central Negros Electric Cooperative (CENECO) will still own the 30 percent of NEPC and all of its debts and financial obligations will be settled through the Joint Venture Agreement.

Tambunting also assured that employees will be taken care of, and their retirement and separation fees from CENECO will be paid in accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreements.

He added that they will also be given first preference if they wish to apply to NEPC.

The proposed bill is co-sponsored by Negros Occ. 3rd District Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez, Rep. Juliet Marie Ferrer (4th district, Negros Occ.), and Bacolod Rep. Greg Gasataya, aside from Paduano.

The primary objective of the franchise, according to NEPC, is to ensure the continuous and uninterrupted supply of electricity in the aforementioned franchise area, aiming to meet the energy needs of the residents and contribute to the region’s development and progress.

NEPC added that legislation marks a significant step toward addressing the energy requirements of the covered areas, promoting economic growth, and enhancing the overall quality of electric distribution for the residents.*

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