6-hour brownout: People rant, anti-coal see evil plot

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Thursday, May 1, 2014


THE longer power interruption schedules posted by the Davao Light and Power Company on its Facebook page at 12:18 p.m. Wednesday quickly earned 155 rants on its comments section just six hours later.

All comments were castigating Davao Light for the longer power interruption, many demanding a more precise schedule as against Davao Light’s advisory of within a period of four hours per interruption schedule that changes every other day.

The most common criticism -- the arbitrariness of the schedules disables the consumers to plan their work schedule around the power interruption on a sustained basis.

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Like for today May 1, Cluster C consumers should expect a power interruption from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. While the same Cluster C customers should expect their second round of power interruption for May 102 sometime between 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. By May 2-3, Cluster C customers should expect their schedule to be around 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. for the daytime round while for May 2-4 the nighttime schedule will be around 1 a.m.-5 a.m.

With the ever-changing schedules, work hours become just as arbitrary.

Anti-coal advocates see an evil plot amid all these to make people panic and clamor for whatever solutions the power companies will offer.

“We fear that this is just part of their grand plan for power rate hikes and construction of more killer coal-fired power plants,” Sheena Duazo, Bayan-Southern Mindanao secretary-general.

The DLPC already apologized to its consumers for the inconvenience brought about by the power interruptions.

However, Duazo said the apology of DLPC is “not acceptable.”

“Their line of reasoning will never be justifiable. Aboitiz and Sy (NGCP President and CEO Henry Sy, Jr.) is doing this to justify coal fired powered plants and privatization of Agus Pulangi hydro power plant,” Duazo said in an interview through the Facebook chat.

She also blamed the National Government for its failure to “rehabilitate existing power plants such as the Agus Pulangi Complex and maximize power barges.”

She said the government resorted to “privatization of these power plants under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP).”

Dr. Jean Lindo, convenor of No to Coal, echoed the same sentiments with Duazo.s

"I somehow expected this scenario. This way they can convince everybody that indeed dirty energy is needed. Remember during the Mindanao Power Summit President Benigno Aquino III said that the two options were to pay higher rate or suffer from rotational brownouts? Well, we got both. There was no option really but to suffer both," Lindo said in a text message to Sun.Star Davao.

“Sustainable energy is possible only for those with political will. The ruling oligarchs and corporate owners are the least people you expect political will from,” she said.

Lawyer Fatima Irene Adin-Purisima of Union of People's Lawyers in Mindanao, said there is no independent energy audit to explain the deficiency or scarcity of energy sources.

“That independent energy audit must be free from influence of energy providers and power businesses. Who knows that this energy crisis is just a plot- a dark plot of power capitalists for us to submit in total privatization at the whole power industry? Who knows this is a way to justify the need for a mega coal-fired power plant again?” Adin-Purisima said in a text message.

Ross Luga, Davao Light Corporate Communications officer, said that with the decreased power allocation by the NPC, the only option remaining is to stretch the duration of the rotating outages.

This is to avoid total collapse of the entire Mindanao transmission grid which happens when the demand for power exceeds the available supply,” Luga said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Regional prosecutor Antonio Arellano believes that brownouts or temporary absence of electric power is a necessary consequence of the lack of capacity to produce and meet the demand for electric power.

“In the meantime, we have to bear and live with the inconveniences and make the most with what we have. In fine, back to basic economics: optimize utilization of scarce resources!” he said.

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

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