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  • By : Delmar O. Cariño
  • May 14, 2020

On Being MCOs

The passion for a strong consumer movement is just too overwhelming.

Not that we missed to acknowledge the sheer number of people who use electricity but admittedly, what we failed to realize is the potent force in them to become a power bloc, from their being well informed of their rights as consumers to becoming lobbyists and activists for the cause of the rural electrification movement.

In short, they can, indeed, become power brokers.

And we have lagged all along in this respect. We almost lost by default, or should we say, we already lost by miles, no thanks to lukewarm leaders of the past NEA and PHILRECA. Maybe it’s their fault. Maybe it’s not. Perhaps the vision then of those at the helm were constricted by key performance standards (KPS) and loan portfolios to ECs.

But what gives is the fact that all of us got blurred. We have been staring over our consumers for years and we simply got stuck being contented of providing them with electricity to watch “Ang Probinsyano” to their hearts’ content. We failed to see the flipside – that we can rally them as political animals with the demand and use for power as the tie that binds.

This was the emphatic footnote of the recent meeting of the One EC Network Foundation and EC Allied Organizations by virtual presser on May 11. We came to further understand what the triad – PHILRECA Party List with Rep. Presley de Jesus, NEA with Administrator Edgardo Masongsong and PHILRECA 92 West with GM and Executive Director Janeede Colingan – were saying all along.

Lest we brand them as being overly repetitive, listening to them actually makes sense. Should you miss their message, you will end up becoming a fence sitter and just end up looking left and right.

Now, we should all take full grip with the rationale why our consumers were officially rechristened as member consumer owners or MCOs. Their hold of electric power, literally that is, matches the power that can be harnessed from them or that they can exercise, politically that is. This would make the thread easier to connect for the One EC Movement, National Center for Electric Cooperative Consumers (NCECC) and the MCOs themselves.

Let’s admit barefaced. Consumerism in the power industry is no longer just using electricity and paying the bills when they come. That’s passe. And all of us stakeholders must perform our part to seduce from oblivion the power that lies with them.

Policies of the energy sector could go astray. Resolutions of state regulators could screw the rights of consumers. Sometimes, we get skewed with regulations that that would make us hapless and we have no option but to comply. The docility of our consumers will not favor us. Their ignorance could perpetuate the hold of oligarchs. And unless we unleash what it means to be an MCO, we will forever remain as simply users of electricity and nothing more.

That’s why we should all be sensitive of our environment. The creation of a movement for electricity consumers is providing the right direction. The victory of securing four seats in Congress is a signal that our MCOs indeed have a voice. The guys that are de Jesus, Dago-oc, Guya and Ebcas being called “power bloc boys” is by no means a reference to their good looks. It’s more of the power of the millions of electricity consumers who elected them into office. The message is they are here and they deserve more in terms of responsive policies, consumer sensitive legislation and activities geared toward inclusive growth.

This is where a successful Member Consumer Owner Program for Empowerment (MCOPE) can help a lot. This is where the member consumer owners (MCO) organization from the grassroots could spell a difference. This is where the educate, organize and mobilize (EOM) thrust could become relevant.

Mind you, it’s a big task that lies ahead. We might as well be a part of the bandwagon or take the risk of history passing us by.