Blackout in Bukidnon looming

THOUSANDS of residents and business establishments in Bukidnon will have no electricity by September 15 due to a power utility’s alleged failure to pay its obligations to the province’s transmission company.

A notice to the public from Bukidnon Sub-Transmission Corporation (BSTC) showed that Bukidnon Second Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Buseco) has not settled its payables to the former.

The notice, a copy of which has been posted in Facebook, did not state the amount Buseco supposedly owes BSTC.

The copy was marked received by the Municipal Government of Libona, one of Buseco’s service areas, on September 7.

Affected areas of the temporary disconnection will be the city of Malaybalay, the towns of Lantapan, Cabanglasan, Impasugong, Sumilao, Manolo Fortich, Malitbog, Libona, Baungon, Talakag, and Barangay Lilingayon in Valencia City.

“[BSTC] is set to effect disconnection/suspension of service to Buseco on 15 September 2016 (Thursday) at 12 noon in view of Buseco’s failure to pay its delinquent accounts with BSTC,” read a part of the notice.

This means that the whole franchise of Buseco will have no electricity since the power utility “will not receive electrical energy through the BSTC sub-transmission system for the duration of the suspension of service of BSTC,” the notice said.

BSTC is operating the 69-kilovolt sub-transmission system in the province of Bukidnon serving Buseco and First Bukidnon Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Fibeco) and bill these customer distribution utilities for the connection charge and residual sub-transmission charge and applicable value added tax.

“A scheduled interruption has been likewise set with the NGCP on September 15 at 12 noon to pave way for such disconnection/suspension of service of BSTC STS to Buseco,” the company said.

Elizabeth Ladaga, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines’ (NGCP) regional corporate communications and public affairs officer in Northern Mindanao, said in a separate interview Thursday morning that they have received the BSTC request to shut down the Maramag-Malaybalay 69-kilovolt power line.

Ladaga said NGCP will cut the power unless BSTC withdraws its request, meaning, if Buseco has paid its payables to the BSTC.

She said they will carry out the request and all other matters concerning the Buseco and BSTC will only be between the two entities.

Bukidnon Governor Jose Maria Zubiri Jr. said he received a letter from BSTC chief executive officer Romeo Pacana informing him of the firm’s plan to shut down the power in several parts of the province.

Zubiri said if Buseco cannot settle its obligations and BSTC pushes through with the disconnection, he will call on the affected consumers to stage a protest rally next week to relay to President Rodrigo Duterte the situation in his province.

Zubiri also called on the board of directors of Buseco to step down since the board failed to serve the interests of the people of Bukidnon.

The Buseco management put out a statement Thursday afternoon, September 8, saying BSTC’s notice caused confusion and anxiety to Buseco’s member-consumer-owners.

Buseco’s statement called the scheduled disconnection of service as "harassment" and "of no legal basis."
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