Group chides Petilla's incompetence as Energy secretary

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Friday, February 28, 2014


A GROUP opposing power rate increase on Friday urged Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Jericho Petilla to resign from post for failing to address the power crisis in Mindanao.

In a statement, former Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casiño, now convenor of People Opposed to Unwarranted Electricity Rates (Power), said the DOE's effort to address the critical power crisis that has been plaguing Mindanao for the last five years proved futile.

"Maybe it's time Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla look for another job, probably as undersecretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) where he can better tend to his constituents in disaster-struck Leyte," Casiño said.

He said the DOE remained clueless 24 hours after the incident.

He noted that the blackout last Thursday, February 27, transpired after the revelation that in the Pablo-struck areas of Southern Mindanao, 57 percent of villages still has no power more than a year after the storm and despite billions of pesos spent on rehabilitation.

The Power also said the problem on Mindanao's power might get worse since Petilla is determined to implementing the Interim Mindanao Electricity Market (IMEM), which they describe as "a clone of the dreaded Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) in Luzon that caused power rates to spike last November and December, making Meralco seek a P4.15 power rate hike in December and another P5.33 hike in January."

"Worse than WESM, which operates in Luzon's limited power supply, IMEM will be operating in Mindanao where there is an acute power shortage. This will definitely lead to even higher prices, with power generators having a heyday manipulating the spot market," the group said.

Casiño feared the IMEM will have the same schemes with WESM such as high clearing prices and automatic pass through charges, which will be experienced by electricity consumers all over Mindanao.
These, he said, will lead to higher rates.

LISTEN: Statement of DOE Sec. Jericho Petilla (February 28, 2014)

Meanwhile, the DOE already identified the cause of the power outage.

In a report of Interaksyon.com, Petilla pointed out the problems at the 80-megawatt Agus 1 hydroelectric power plant in Marawi City being operated by the National Power Corporation as the cause of the blackout.

"Yong Agus 1 area sa Lanao del Norte, dito nagsimula 'yong tripping [that's where the tripping started]," he said.

He said they are yet to find out whether it was the plant or the lines of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP)that tripped.

The Davao Light and Power Co. (DLPC) said on Friday it will continue to conduct one-hour rotating brownouts due to ongoing insufficient power supply as advised by the NGCP.

"The implementation of the rotating brownouts was necessary to apportion available power supply to its customers. It will also contribute in avoiding total collapse of the entire Mindanao transmission grid which happens when the demand for power exceeds the available supply," the DLPC said in a statement.

The DLPC said it will go on with this measure until notice from the NGCP to lift its implementation is received. (Arianne Caryl N. Casas)

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 01, 2014.

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