Last update: June 19 2008, 11:56 PM
Inquirer Money - FEATURES

Davao Light and Dabawenyos: Formidable partners

June 14, 2008

While politicians and various sectors in Metro Manila were trading barbs over high power rates, Davao City was quietly enjoying the services of the best power utility in the country.

Davao Light and Power Co. is the country’s third-largest privately-owned electric utility. It holds the franchise to distribute electricity in Davao City, the largest city in the world in terms of land area, and in Panabo City and the municipalities of Carmen, Dujali and Santo Tomas in Davao del Norte province.

In 2007, the company sold 1.331 billion kilowatt-hours to 247,341 customers.

And while experts and politicians were complaining about the high system loss in the capital, our power utility here has been posting losses below what the government allows.

According to data obtained from the company, Davao Light’s systems loss was 8.8 percent of the total power distributed, way below the maximum 9.5 percent the government allows.

Systems loss is defined as electricity lost due to technical problems and pilferage. Under the law, a power utility cannot pass on to its customers the cost of systems loss beyond 9.5 percent.

Also, Davao Light maintains a 54.7-megawatt standby diesel power plant to stabilize voltage as well as augment its power supply when needed.

It also makes use of an automated mapping and facilities management (AM/FM) system to track its electric distribution assets within its 3,561 square-kilometer franchise area.

Also in place is a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system, which allows remote, real-time data gathering and control of equipment in all power substations.

High-end computers, sophisticated software and other devices are also being used to speed up meter reading, streamline billing, provide efficient and prompt response to customer inquiries and analyze electrical grid information.

In anticipation of an increase in power demand within its service area, the company has also signed an agreement with sister company, Hedcor Inc., which would ensure its access to new sources of power.

And until late last month, the main man behind the company was a young and energetic executive known for his humility and candor—the late Luis Alfonso Y. Aboitiz.

Whenever the power firm asked to be allowed to increase rates, Al Aboitiz himself did the explaining, instead of turning over the responsibility to his subordinates.

Armed with his Powerpoint presentation, Al would patiently discuss the issues with the business sector and leaders of progressive organizations. He would answer every question, even the irrelevant ones.

Under his leadership, the company was also known as one of the leaders in corporate social responsibility work, having done so much for education, health and enterprise development within its service area.

But one achievement that Al was always proud of is the city’s emergency system—the Central 911 patterned after similar systems in the United States and Canada.

The project was conceptualized in collaboration with Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and it uses the Electronic Computer Aided Dispatch system of the power utility to respond to distress calls. Today, 911 is Davao’s partner in saving lives.

His untimely death saddened not only his family and company, but also the city that benefited greatly from his leadership. This may be late, but let me extend my condolences to the family that Al left behind.

He will be remembered well by all Dabawenyos.

Joji Ilagan Bian is an advocate for the development of the region. She is chairperson of Joji Ilagan Foundation (www.jojiilagancareercenter.com); president of the Philippine Call Centers Alliance and the Mindanao Tech Voc Schools Association; Mindanao representative to the Export Development Council. Email comments jojibian2@yahoo.com.

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