MORE Power has successfully neutralized the massive power pilferage in Iloilo City in two years since the launching of its Oplan Valeria anti-pilferage campaign last July 2020.
According to Engr. Edwin Montemayor, Head of the System Loss Reduction Program of the distribution utility, the system loss was as high as 28% when they took over in 2020, which prompted them to create Oplan Valeria.
The team of courageous apprehension teams and engineers went to every barangay
day and night, not minding if they might catch influential personalities,
businessmen, government officials, or even ordinary citizens.
"Sang 2020 pagstart namon, makita namon kada gab-i daw galibog amon ulo kay whole block no light. Nagalibog ulo namon ano natabo sa mga area nga ni. May mga jumper gali kadamu-damu kung gab-i. So ang nagakatabu, ang transformer nga na install dira para sa mga legal nga consumer, naga overload kay gin angutan sang mga illegal nga consumer. So ang transformer, naga trip kung gab-i. Amo na nga may mga unscheduled interruption kita sadto kun gab-i nga whole block no-light," says Engr. Montemayor.
Initially, they discovered an average of 230 illegal connections a month. To date, the number was reduced to 10–20 cases a month.
At present, the system loss declined by a mile, with an average of just 7%. This improvement is beneficial to our consumers since system loss charges will just be minimal.
According to Engr. Montemayor, vigilant consumers played a big role in the success of their campaign because residents know exactly which areas in their community have massive power pilferage and who are involved.
"So may mga tip ang mga consumer. So kung ginakadtuan namon, kay kun kami lang, indi tanan nga mga lugar makadtuan namon. Kag indi kami kabalo sina nga ang mga lugar sina may jumper. So ang consumer gid na number one nagahatag sang benepisyo sa pagtapna sang illegal connection," says Engr. Montemayor.
Each report is handled and treated as highly confidential to ensure that those who vigilantly support this campaign are also protected.
Power pilferage is a violation of Republic Act 7832 or Anti-Pilferage of Electricity and Theft of Electric Transmission Lines/Materials Act of 1994.
According to the company's legal officer, Atty. Allana Babayen-on, they filed 220 formal complaints against those who were caught in the act, 157 of which were brought to court. The rest were given provisional dismissal on the condition that they pay for the illegally consumed electricity.
Atty. Babayen-on clarified that MORE Power is very patient in dealing with and understanding the plight of these illegal consumers of electricity and that they make sure that due process is followed.
"After the apprehension, we sent the demand letter informing them nga nadakpan sila. Amo ni ang ila differential billing and that they would settle. Thankfully ang iban nagasettle man, very cooperative man sila and they recognize nga sala ang ila pagpangawat sang kuryente and they promise to pay. Well and good. But sometimes, may ara gid ya indi magsettle, or nagpromise magsettle or nag breach sang ila compromise. So in those cases, we file a complaint before the office of the city prosecutor," says Atty. Babayen-on.
"Krimen ang ila nga nahimo pero wala naton sila ginakabig nga mga kriminal. Bangud ang aton gusto nga buligan sila nga ma-correct ang sala nga madugay na nila nga nakaangdan," she added.
MORE Power helped these consumers to have a legal electricity connection and also shortened the list of requirements.
They also strengthen their partnerships with barangay officials in the total rehabilitation of the utility's facilities and improvements of voltage capacities in exchange for their cooperation to eradicate the "jumpers" in their community.
From 62,000, MORE Power now has 91,000 legitimate consumers.
Pilferage compromises the safety of consumers. It is the root cause of household fires because electric lines get heated due to overloading.
MORE Power appreciates the support and assistance of the consumers and continues to encourage the public to sustain their cooperation and not hesitate in informing the company if there are still power pilferages in their communities.