By Myrna M. Velasco
State-run National Power Corporation (Napocor) will have a new President and Chief Executive Officer on some sort of ‘come back bid” for Pio J. Benavidez, who will be replacing Gladys Cruz-Sta Rita starting April 1 this year.
Benavidez was a long-time executive at NPC, who also made his foray into the private sector following his departure at the state-owned power firm.
He was first appointed by Malacanang to be in NPC’s board of directors, but in an election last week, Benavidez was finally elevated into the corporation’s top post.
Following the privatization of most of the government’s power assets, NPC was left with residual role of bringing energy service to off-grid areas.
But one major function it still has under its core is on the operation of the Agus-Pulangui hydropower complex in Mindanao – of which privatization is also hanging due to the extent of opposition from stakeholders in the grid.
Benavidez is not definitely new to the issues and problems of the power utility, but this time, all eyes will be on him as to how he would be able to steer the company efficiently into addressing such concerns.
Aside from his deep knowledge of the energy sector’s terrain, Benavidez will not also need that much adjustment when it comes to “working relationship” with the staff and management of the power firm.
Almost certainly, however, his action will be crucially needed immediately in ensuring round-the-clock power supply in areas where NPC’s electricity service provision is warranted.
Until now, many off-grid areas still strive into having power supply longer than 12 hours, and with an old-timer now taking the helm at NPC, it is not surprising that consumers along the Small Power Utilities Group (SPUG) domain will be expecting faster action.
On Sta Rita’s tenure, NPC pursued provision of longer power service in many SPUG areas with the deployment of generating sets to areas that are in dire need of electricity supply.
It is interesting to watch then how the newly-installed NPC chief executive would step up on such initiatives, because the SPUG areas have after all, robust potential to contribute to the country’s overall economic growth.