GOV. Gwen Garcia was correct: there is no power crisis in Cebu or the Visayas.

What happened the past days, one that prompted businessmen to issue statements of concern, is a mere shortfall in power supply that is momentary considering the cause.

But it showed, again, how fragile the power setup in the Visayas is.

Click here for stories and updates on the Sinulog 2010 Festival.

Shortfall

Energy department officials have pinpointed the cause of the power shortfall.

Preventive maintenance work on the Mahanagdong geothermal power plant in Leyte took away 200 megawatts from the Visayas grid while the non-operation of two gas turbines in Naga took away 44 megawatts from the Cebu end.

The gas turbines did not break down and are not undergoing preventive maintenance: they don’t have fuel.

Kepco-Salcon Power Corp.’s Cebu Thermal Power Plant 1, meanwhile, is also undergoing preventive maintenance.

The reason for the power shortfall in Cebu is therefore not an act of nature but is man-made, or for critics of the Visayas power generators, is a result of incompetence.

The argument is that those concerned could have done better with this preventive maintenance and lack of fuel supply concerns to avert a shortfall.

Panic

Since the power problem is only temporary and non-operating plants are bound to be humming to life back soon, there’s still no reason to press the panic button.

But the expression of concern by the business sector in Cebu and the negative impression the power shortfall may have on potential investors should already jolt officials concerned to action.

Going ningas cogon again is bad.

Yet assurances of additional power sources operating in the near future and of the May elections not hampered by power supply problems seem to have eased the worries.

The effect could be good or bad.

Good in the sense that it ensures that the feeling of concern would no longer deteriorate into a panic situation and bad because it could bring about passivity again.

Alternatives

Projections about power supply in Cebu reaching critical levels have been made prompting government to allow the construction of coal-fired power plants, a move opposed by environmentalists.

But even that might only be for the short term.

A rational long-term solution need to be aggressively pursued now.