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  • By : Delmar O. CariƱo
  • Aug 04, 2020

The GM for an electric cooperative

Managing an electric cooperative (EC) is not as simple as cooking a fluffy omelet for breakfast. Neither could the job be handily grasped by DIY after seeing how the mechanic tightens the screws nor could one feel confident about it just after a few hours of education.

Believe me, it's no easy task to run an EC. One must have the stuff suited for the job and the credentials required to run it 24/7. The power industry is just too highly technical, financially demanding and capital extensive that only one with the right wits could successfully wade through it. There's no room to blink. More than the stack of knowledge that is needed, the GM must have the experience necessary to hurdle the daily rigors of electric distribution, including having the right disposition in interfacing with member consumer owners (MCOs) who sometimes could get to your nerves for being notorious.

The learning curve for the job is just too steep. And not even a doctoral degree from Harvard could guarantee a safe passage to becoming an effective general manager (GM) and put the EC on rock and roll. Naming an inexperienced outsider as GM of an electric cooperative might spell disaster. Not that we hate visitors to become our boss. But the stakes are just too high for the EC and we don't want to get spooked by a mere marginal note from the powers that be naming this or that as the new GM.

Please understand where I and the electric cooperative's employees are coming from. Our franchise is due to expire in 2028. Our Electric Power Purchase Agreement (EPPA) with Team Energy will end in 2024. Pending is our registration as a stock cooperative with the Cooperative Development Authority with the lurking sidebar of whether or not the EC will change its rate methodology from cash flow to return on rate base. We also hope to commercialize the three megawatt mini hydro in Buguias, Benguet by next year as we continue to lay the groundwork for other renewable energy projects. And more.

The electric cooperative is bound to address these challenges. Further pushed to the wall by the pandemic, the EC must keep its grips with its sanity and should not panic. A good man at the helm would guarantee that the EC will be on the right track. A newbie coming in as GM might cause the EC to collapse, no thanks to inexperience that will surely get overwhelmed with the daily doses of the work - from low voltage and fallen poles to busted transformers and heaps of gripes queueing at the consumer welfare office.

The EC's Board of Directors recently wanted an education on why the EC must keep tab of the fluctuations in the price of coal in the global market. GM MSL explained with gusto. He said the variances of coal prices could affect the generation cost of the power BENECO buys from Team Energy courtesy of the terms of its 20 year power supply agreement with the power firm.

Splendid. In short, our GM is fully on board. And the timing of his ascension could not have been more perfect. With him, the employees can sleep soundly with the confidence that the new GM is up for par.

Why bother then to disturb such cool situation? MSL is the right man.

And I bet my chips on him. All in.