Power consumers in Negros Occidental are calling for the resignation of NEA Administrator Antonio Mariano Almeda. The lead convenor of South Negros Power Advocates, Irene Viason, claims that the Negros Occidental Electric Cooperative (NOCECO) was not in trouble before being taken over by the National Electrification Administration (NEA). Despite a drop in power rates for June, concerns about internal manipulation persist among power advocates.

Viason highlighted that NEA’s takeover of NOCECO was an abuse of power, as the agency only has supervisory and oversight authority over the electric cooperative. She emphasized the importance of developing economic growth and viability to promote social justice in public utility cooperatives like NOCECO.

Viason called on NEA Administrator Almeda to step down, citing alleged manipulation of the cooperative’s internal operations and lack of effectiveness in assisting member-consumer-owners (MCOs) of NOCECO. The delay in securing approval for a power agreement with Kepco Salcon in 2023 led to NOCECO’s excessive exposure in the Wholesale Energy Spot Market (WESM) and subsequently resulted in high power rates for consumers.

In support of Viason’s call, IFI priest Numeriano Maquiran expressed concerns about the alleged abuse of power under Almeda’s leadership, affecting nearly two hundred thousand MCOs. Power consumers are also urging Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., to reinstate the sacked general manager and board of directors of NOCECO and organize a special election to prevent further mismanagement and potential insolvency.

The petition signed by over a thousand MCOs of NOCECO raised issues about the management committee appointed by NEA entering into an emergency power supply agreement without presenting it during the Annual General Membership Assembly. The petition expressed concerns about disregarding the rights of power consumers and the lack of transparency in decision-making processes.

It is essential for government agencies like NEA to uphold the public interest and ensure the well-being of consumers in public utility cooperatives. The ongoing dispute between power advocates, NEA, and NOCECO highlights the importance of transparent and accountable governance in the energy sector to protect consumers and promote economic growth.