Rain Dance

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By Jun Ledesma

Sunbursts

Friday, May 16, 2014


THE brief scorching heat that we went through is Mother Nature’s way of eradicating pests in the fields. That’s among my grandfather’s lesson 101 for me. The soil also rests from constant cultivation of rice or corn and in the process recovers much of lost fertility.

That was several decades ago in a remote hinterland in Midsayap, Cotabato. Fast forward to current condition this time in Davao City. Intense summer heat although brief, not only eradicate insects but electricity. Power producers seem like being caught with their pants down and the bumbling national government quickly blamed the local electric cooperatives for the protracted power shortage.

It looked like the power producers have not learned enough lessons from the government’s regulatory agencies utter lack of plans to address the precarious supply of energy in Mindanao. Now we are getting a clear message from Malacañang which blamed the power cooperatives and private utilities in Mindanao for the shortfall of wattage. Now we got the import of the message when the President and the Mindanao Development Authority said that to address the power shortage the utilities must buy “modular generators”. That’s not helping Mindanaoans at all.

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It is short of saying solve the problems yourselves but don’t forget to pay the universal charges in your electric bills so that the National Capital Region will not be paying more for their electricity. In short, the Aquino government will no longer spend a single centavo to rehab Agus and Polangi and just leave to Mother Nature the means to let those hydropower turbines run to generate the much-needed electricity.

We then go back to the basics and rustic: recite the incantation and perform the ritual of rain dance to summon rain to provide enough water in Lake Lanao and the catchment in Polangi. And eureka! The rain came and the crippling rotating brownout stopped. I am certain that the Department of Energy and power producers will claim credit for what the heavens sent.

Just how we wonder why Davao City ran out of viable supply of electricity, we are in limbo as to why we now seem to have power. There was hopelessness and helplessness and in desperation we accepted every bit of reason that DOE and power utilities tell us. Until the rain came we cannot make heads or tails of the tall tales they conjure.

Still I personally have faith and confidence in Davao Light & (and) Power Company and its flagship – Aboitiz Power. Davao City specifically is its corporate ancestral home and it is incomprehensible that this city, which we boast about to be the prime destination of investment capital within this decade owing to its redundant power and water sources, will experience 6-hour downtime.

If they haven’t yet, Aboitiz should absorb lesson from this shameful and disastrous episode. Knowing how inutile the national government in addressing the energy needs of Mindanao henceforth they should keep their generators in tip-top condition and their technicians alert.

They too should tone down their corporate air of arrogance like importuning clients to spell out “and” instead of “&” and “Avenue” instead of the contraction “Ave.” In the midst of sweltering heat of summer and power fluctuation the consumers are dealt with deafening silence. A treatment we do not deserve. Eramon Aboitiz and Bobby Orig would come down from their pedestals to rub elbows with us hoi-polloi but the small flies in the power giant are acting like Gestapo demanding that “&”and “Ave.” should be spelled out and damn if you do not. The corporate image being built by Eramon and Bobby are being diminished by the swell-headedness of some grumpy personnel.

Despite everything Aboitiz Power has steady the course of providing its franchise area with adequate power supply. The 280-megawatt coal-fired power plant had been upgraded to deliver at least 600 MGW of cheap electricity. Added to that, if the heavens will continue with adequate rainfall, Aboitiz run-of-river hydropower generators will have so much to spare. When this happens we can resume boasting that Davao City is the next hub of investment capital. As Mayor Rody Duterte told the Davao Light and Power Company: “We will endure this one, but make sure that the coal-fired power plant will liberate us from the misery of power shortage”. That’s a tender rap on the knuckles actually.

Indeed it will not be long from now. Hopefully by next year or within 1916 we will not be dancing for the rain. We want to see our moribund street lights all be lighted and bright enough to signal Davao City is indeed a good hub for business.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on May 16, 2014.

Opinion

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