January 12, 2017 12:09 AM
By: Maricyn A. De los Santos
IS GUIMARAS Electric Cooperative (Guimelco) too proud to ask help or too afraid to tell the truth and open its books and organization to the Guimaras provincial government to address its problems?
Guimelco has been a subject of hate and disgust of consumers for some months on end due to its poor services.
Its 2,641 member-consumers suffer three to four rounds of brownouts daily, inconveniencing households, disrupting economic activities and turning off potential investors.
It spares no one, even the most powerful man in the island – Governor Samuel T. Gumarin, who is also left in the dark as to causes of the problem.
“Hindi klaro sa taga-probinsya, mismo sa akon kun ano ang cause (ng brownouts),” said Gumarin in an interview Jan. 11, 2017.
Gumarin said the province, through the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP), has called on Guimelco executives thrice to explain and enlighten the government officials on the causes of regular frequent brownouts and high cost of electricity.
“We experience three to four brownouts in a day. Hambal nila tuko (gecko), pero personally hindi ko ya magpati,” Gumarin said.
Another reason, which is more plausible, is Guimelco’s distribution lines.
Some of the lines are as old as the coop itself, which was created in 1979. Over the years, the number of consumers and the demand for electricity increased but the lines were never upgraded.
But Gumarin is unconvinced.
“Even then (old distribution lines), ako gapati ang ginahambal nila hindi na ang matuod-tuod na rason ngaa may brownout kita katatlo kaapat sa isa kaadlaw,” he stressed.
Until recently, Guimelco was a non-stock, non-profit electric coop under the National Electrification Administration (NEA).
In November, majority of the members ratified the articles of cooperation and by-laws of Guimelco for it to become a full-fledge cooperative under the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA).
Its conversion offers a promise, though, that the province can have a peek, if not dip its hands in Guimelco affairs to help the electric coop address their problems.
“Sa tudtuod lang, nabudlayan kami magsulod sa management structure sang Guimelco…Hopefully with (Guimelco now a full-fledge) cooperative (under CDA), maka-entra ang provincial government in terms sang pagmanehar sa mayo na management sa probinsya makita naton kun ano ang kapaltahan sa management ng Guimelco. Ang probinsya is willing to help,” he said.
He explained that the provincial government and the SP also want to check Guimelco’s finances.
“We want to know, pila ang revenue, diin nagasulod ang VAT, pila ang ginabuhin n’yo sa aton consumers, diin nagakadto, amo na ang dapat lantawon ng probinsya at ng mga munisipyo. That way, we will know if Guimelco has indeed that capacity to improve not only its lines but also its assets,” he said.
“We are positive nga kun makita namon ang problema sa Guimelco, we could address the technical problems and help improve their capability to deliver reliable and steady supply of electricity,” he said.
Gumarin said he knew that it would entail a lot of resources to improve Guimelco’s distribution infrastructures.
The provincial government targets to address power issues this year.
“Hindi ko ni maobra kun mismo ang aton nga supplier sang electricity nagapabilin kag nagapatig-a nga i-imprubar ang Guimelco,” he concluded.
Entrepreneur Rosario Griesser, owner of Guimaras Wonders Farm in Brgy. Alaguisoc, said she is unhappy with and worried of the frequent power interruptions.
Griesser, who is originally from Bulacan, runs an eight-hectare farm planted with mangoes and pesticide-free fruits and vegetables.
“We use electric pump to water our gardens. If there is no electricity, naturally we can’t water the fruits and vegetables which in turn would result to decrease in production,” she said.
“The processing of mango jam is also interrupted when it is brownout,” she added.
She and her deceased husband chose to invest their hard-earned money in Guimaras more than a decade ago because “among all places we visited, we fell in love with Guimaras island.”
She lamented the very high cost of electricity and its impact to her net income.
“In farming, the number one need is water; and we need electricity to run our water pumps,” she stressed.
Teny Limbaga of Brgy. Sto. Rosario, Buenavista said he is doing all he can to keep his monthly electricity consumption at the minimum.
“I use energy-saving light bulbs, and make sure I turn off the circuit breaker when I sleep at night,” he said.
“I also stopped using the refrigerator, rice cooker, electric fan, and other appliances I know I can live without. Now, I watch TV shows in my cellphone,” he quipped.