Oro power upped by 21 MW

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Saturday, May 10, 2014


AFTER the power load of Cagayan Electric Power and Light Company (Cepalco) dipped in the last two weeks, the power ration increased to 60 MW on May 9, 2014 at 3 p.m. giving an increase of 21 MW for the city that registered 39 MW Thursday evening.

Marilyn Chavez, senior manager and also the customer community relations manager of Cepalco, said the 105 MW power connected from Steag State Power (SPI) must be working already, adding to the confirmed restoration of the diesel-fired power plant in Zamboanga City that was shutdown for maintenance on May 6.

No guarantees

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Because of the increase, Chavez said Cepalco interrupted the power to only five hours instead of 7.5 hours on Friday, May 9. Some areas didn't experience a power outage at all while others only experienced around 3.5 hours brownout.  

“We’re looking at the possibility that the interruption would only be five to six hours,” she said, but clarified that there are no guarantees.

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) Central Office spokesperson lawyer Cynthia Alabanza said that the allocation of power is issued by the National Power Corporation (NPC), NGCP is only implementing it.

“NGCP is only the highway that transmits available power. We do not control its supply or [its] allocation, Atty. Alabanza told Sun.Star via text message on Friday.

In a published report, President Benigno Aquino III blamed the former leaders of Mindanao for the present power shortage experienced around the island, primarily, for not participating in the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA).

“President Aquino has long said that way back in the 2010 Power Summit in Davao and I’ve already answered him on that very event. He (Aquino) already knew the answer,” Association of Mindanao Rural Electric Cooperatives (Amreco) president Sergio Dagooc told Sun.Star in a text message.

“I don’t want to repeat everything over and over again because pointing fingers is not helping solve the problem. It’s better that everyone just work. In our part, we are doing everything to balance the need to look for additional supply while taking into account the electricity rate impact to the consumers,” he furthered.

“It’s not good to just have electricity at any price. If employed people from Metro Manila complain like that, how much more in Mindanao where paying the bill is a hard though the bill is cheaper?”

“It’s so easy to say that we should raise the electricity payments if you have the resources to pay, but there are a lot who have a hard time paying their electricity bills,” he said.

Didn't happen overnight

Ralph Abragan, Save CDO Movement Inc. chair and SULOG vice-chair, opposed Aquino's statement during the contract signing between the state-owned industrial park Phividec and Filinvest Development Utilities, Inc. (FDC) which is constructing a coal-fired power plant in Misamis Oriental. 

Abragan said the power shortage did not happen overnight and it shouldn't be the root of the problem but of the miscommunication and relationship among government agencies involved like the Department of Energy (DOE), National Electrification Administration (NEA), among others. 

"The problem started in 2005. Since then, they [agencies] should have had a masterplan on the rehabilitation of Agus-Pulangi hydroelectric plant."

Aquino said that hydro power plants are machines that need to be maintained and leaders in Mindanao back then took advantage of the massive source of water. 

He added that previous leaders in the island allowed illegal loggers to continue their operations risking watersheds resulting to climate change. 

However, Abragan disagreed and questioned, "Who issues permits to these illegal logging companies? Diba it is the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)? Why would he blame the people?"

Abragan belied the contradiction on what the companies are telling the people that the water source is beginning to be scarce and Aquino's support for the construction of coal-fired power plants in the country.  

"I do not think there is an issue about the water. We have water. But there is business going on. Why would we resort to putting up coal-fired power plants when they are not even environment-friendly? And for the mere fact na lang that we have water here. Why would we put so much value to a junk idea? Other countries are not even thinking of putting up more coal-fired power plants because the materials are expensive, and yeah, it's junk. That's our problem gyud, we put high value into what is supposed to be of zero value."

He is dismayed because some leaders in the country figured in the Malampaya scam who allegedly siphoned the money from where it belonged.
"People have been deprived especially here in Mindanao. We are blinded by these companies which are suggesting to accept coal-fired power plants. We should have been examining solar and hydro alone."

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on May 10, 2014.

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