Visayan Electric airs concern over issuance of temporary electric permits
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Visayan Electric, the primary energy provider for Metro Cebu, has asked the Cebu City Council to reconsider some portions of a proposed ordinance on the issuance of temporary electric permits.
The ordinance was proposed by Councilor Eduardo “Edu” Rama, Jr., in December 2019, and the legislation hopes to grant temporary electrical connection permits for underprivileged households.
The ordinance would institutionalize the city’s Let There Be Light project that was started during the term of former mayor, now Vice Mayor Michael “Mike” Rama.
Visayan Electric said in the public hearing of the proposed ordinance on Wednesday, March 4, 2020, that they cannot provide electric connection permits for structures without building permits.
Raul Lucero, the president, and chief operating officer of Visayan Electric, said they cannot possibly follow the proposed ordinance since they are bound to the National Building Code, the Philippine Electrical Code, and Magna Carta for Residential Electricity Consumers.
“We can only provide a temporary electric permit for construction purposes. There should be a certificate of final or temporary inspection from the Office of the Building Official (OBO),” he said.
Lucero said the owners of the land, where the electricity will be connected to also need to give consent, which will make it harder for the energy utility to energize a fire-hit area where the residents do not own the lots.
Councilor Edu urged Visayan Electric to review their policies in order to accommodate the underprivileged members of the community especially those who were struck by disasters such as a fire.
“Ang mahitabo ana ig human sa sunog, wala silay kuryente. Wa paman silay building permit, mangawat nalang na silag kuryente. Delikado gihapon kay mahimo napud og rason sa sunog. Balik-balik ra ang problema,” said Councilor Edu.
(What happens is that after the fire, the residents lose their power connection. Since they don’t have building permits, they can’t get electric permits, they will resort to stealing. This is dangerous because electrical tapping can cause a fire. The problem just gets repeated.)
Councilor Raymond Alvin Garcia pointed out to Visayan Electric that there are exemptions to the law on the issuance of temporary electrical connection permits requiring building permits.
He said residential structures usually made of light or indigenous materials such as nipa huts and similar buildings do not need building permits to acquire an electric connection permit.
“You can interpret the law differently to allow connection for these types of households. There is a way to do it. The law is not limited,” Garcia pointed out.
Lucero said the ordinance will have to be more defined for easier implementation.
Visayan Electric urged the council to ensure that the criteria for the beneficiaries should include that the electrical connection should only be for personal consumption. The utility also asked that the proposed connected load of the premises should not exceed the maximum level of consumption entitled to a lifeline subsidy and the applicant be qualified as a lifeline user.
Finally, the Visayan Electric asked that registered electrical engineers be deputized to check the homes of the beneficiaries to help the city in the inspections.
Councilor Edu said he will incorporate the recommendations of Visayan Electric on the ordinance, but he also urged the latter to find means to provide the necessary electrical connection permit to the less privileged.
He assured that beneficiaries would be duly registered and verified by the Division on the Welfare of the Urban Poor (DWUP). /rcg
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