By | August 11, 2020
More Power Iloilo president Roel Z. Castro

If, like many others, you were a silent spectator to the legal wrangling between Panay Electric Company, Inc. (PECO) and MORE Electric and Power Corporation (MORE) in recent months, you were probably reserving final judgment until the smoke cleared up.

Because before now there was fire and brimstone and all sorts of accusations and counter-accusations, mudslinging, black propaganda, even a brief standoff at some point that it was almost impossible to see a clear picture of what was really going on.

All this while everyone was preoccupied and beset by COVID-19 and holed up in their homes, so much of what we know about the current power distributor in Iloilo City we got from social media, which is hardly a reliable source of information.

At any rate, many of those who felt they were caught smack in the middle of the contentious power struggle and could only hopelessly watch on the sidelines, were also secretly wishing MORE would emerge the victor. After all, they were brandishing rehabilitation, reduction, and refinement in equal measures.

For those at their wits’ end with PECO and tired of paying for system losses and higher-than-national-average rates or just plain itching for change, MORE seemed to be the answer to all their prayers. But is it really?

Castro out in the field talking to some MORE Power Iloilo consumers.

Castro out in the field talking to some MORE Power Iloilo consumers.

THE BACK STORY
For almost a century, PECO supplied the energy needs of this city that has always bustled with economic activity from its well-developed ports open to regional and international trade. But before it became the private enterprise of the Cacho family in the early 1920s, Panay Electric Company was a franchise owned by Don Esteban de la Rama, who in 1923 had acquired the sole right to own, operate, and maintain an electric, light, heat, and power company in Iloilo.

But barely four years after it was issued a Certificate of Public Necessity and Convenience to distribute electricity, majority of PECO’s stocks were sold to Candelaria Ditching Cacho, and the rest, as they say, is history.

PRESENT-DAY
But PECO had major failings, for sure. And depending on who you ask, they were either tolerable or downright unpardonable.

It seemed as though there was no middle ground: subscribers were either dispassionate about the issues or were out for blood. Those who could forgive downplayed PECO’s misgivings as oversights and lauded the company’s efforts to right the wrongs in recent years; those who couldn’t, rallied behind the entry of a new player, MORE, who has pledged P1.8B to modernize the system and fix everything broken, mend all things frayed, and chuck those in utter disrepair. Most importantly they vowed to regain the trust and admiration of power subscribers and give them the service they truly deserve.

With MORE officially running the grid lines, we have indeed seen and experienced a lot of changes in the way the utility is managed, including a more responsive customer service, faster troubleshooting of downed lines, and forging partnerships with practically all sectors in the city of Iloilo.

On social media, people have posted and remarked about how queueing at Hotel del Rio, MORE’s temporary billing headquarters, to pay the bill or make inquiries is made very pleasant by the provision of coffee and entertainment while you wait for your turn.

Feedback has been nothing but positive, and we certainly can understand why. One oft-repeated complaint against PECO before was how customers would endure hours to transact business over the counter only to come face-to-face with a disagreeable cashier who couldn’t offer even a hint of a smile if her life depended on it. MORE is definitely winning fans with this one.

Castro overseeing the preventive maintainance of MORE Power substation.

Castro overseeing the preventive maintainance of MORE Power substation.

MORE has also been cracking down on power pilferage, particularly with the use of illegal connections that bypass meters–or “jumpers” as they are more commonly known–by going door-to-door and catching the power thieves red-handed. It is the general consensus that PECO did not do enough to stop this illegal activity and simply passed on the burden to the subscribers, who begrudgingly resigned themselves to paying their monthly dues without question or risk disconnection. Social media approval of MORE’s blitzkrieg ops is high and generates a lot of buzz.

THE MAN BEHIND THE CHANGE
Amidst this remarkable change in Iloilo City’s power distribution system is Mr. Roel Castro, MORE Power’s president and chief operating officer, who has been known as the silent hands-on figure of the company’s entry-level successes.

Only few things, actually, are known about this man credited for being the “great establisher” of MORE Power’s start-up in Iloilo City who, accordingly, enjoys being the most respected from among the rank and file employees of the company for his enormous love of people and intellectual sense of humor, fierce passion of winning, and unbridled desire to change the metro’s “poorly-managed” distribution system using his unique management style.

The man, by the way, is also credited for setting up the Palm Concepcion Power Corporation considered as one of the most advanced and fuel-efficient coal-fired power plants in the country today in Concepcion, Iloilo. With the plant’s 270-megawatt state-of-the-art facility, the lack of base load power in the Visayan Island has been addressed aside from significantly improving power quality, security, reliability and costs.

So while Mr. Castro might be used to creating harmony between two dissonant abstractions–as a cursory look into his credentials and background reveal—one can only surmise that this power generation guy maybe packing a bag full of “tricks” to satisfy a clientele that simply wants MORE to do more (Tima Oramad/IN)

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