Activate new submarine cable or face consequence

Nordeco given until June 30 to activate submarine power cable
Igacos Mayor Al David Uy
Igacos Mayor Al David UySamal Island Information

ISLAND Garden City of Samal (Igacos) Mayor Al David Uy has given the Northern Davao Electric Cooperative (Nordeco) an ultimatum — connect the submarine power cable by June 30, 2024 or face consequences.

Uy noted that despite the initial stop-gap solutions the city government implemented in 2023, Igacos has continued to experience island-wide brownouts.

“It is a struggle. Businesses and residents are experiencing added costs with damaged equipment and the need to purchase a power generator. And if you are seeing these businesses purchasing power generators, there is a problem with the power service provider,” said the Mayor through the Davao Consumer Movement (DCM).

In 2023, the Igacos City Council declared a state of calamity due to the power crisis. The councilors also passed a resolution "allocating P8,100,000.00 intended for the procurement of Modular Generator Set and Accessories."

“If the city government needs to pull out money from its own pockets just to address the power situation, then it is obvious that the electric cooperative is not doing its job properly. Ensuring a stable power supply for their franchise area is their job in the first place,” Uy was quoted as telling DCM.

He added that while there was a temporary relief with the arrival of the modular generator sets, the island continued to experience brownouts a year later.

Nordeco told the Senate in a committee hearing last July that it has resolved the power situation of Igacos. But Mayor Uy said these “band-aid solutions” barely helped the city cope with its power needs, adding that the best solution will still be the submarine cable, which has yet to be energized.

A P1-billion 14-kilometer submarine cable from Pantukan, Davao de Oro to the Island Garden City of Samal, Davao del Norte is currently being worked on to provide stable power to the island. 

Samal’s primary source of electricity is from the mainland which is being delivered through a decades-old submarine cable. The cable has been prone to outages and could not keep up with the growing demand of the island. 

Even with the presence of the modular generator sets owned by the Igacos Light and Power Company (ILPC), the island continues to experience regular power outages.

“Nordeco is barely giving us updates on the submarine cable. We could not count the number of promises that they made to energize the cables ‘within the year.’ What is causing the delay? All this for P1-billion? What are they even doing with the money with all these delays?” Uy reportedly asked.

Based on news reports, Nordeco made assurances that the submarine cable will begin operations in 2022 and 2023. However, the cables have yet to be operationalized.

“The poor power service is damaging the economy of Igacos. Our existing investors are barely keeping up while potential investors are looking for someplace else to put their money in,” Davao del Norte Governor Edwin Jubahib said in various press statements.

He added that the power crisis hindered Igacos from becoming a tourism capital in Davao Region. The Governor pointed out that not only businesses are struggling with poor power service but social services as well like healthcare.

“Igacos and Davao del Norte won’t turn a blind eye to this. Nordeco should not see itself as untouchable. It is arrogant to think that it is. Igacos will exert its right to demand stable and reliable power and we will exert all legal means to ensure that we get that,” Jubahib has said.

Ryan Amper, Davao Consumer Movement Convenor, said there is a “continued disconnect” between Nordeco and its consumers as the franchise area continues to be plagued with power crisis.

"Nordeco continues to turn a blind eye to the people they serve. They can counter our claims as much as they want. But it remains the same, we have yet to feel any improvements over the past years. The power crisis continues," Amper said.

Over the past years, there has been a call to replace Nordeco as a power distributor in some parts of Davao del Norte due to poor power service and expensive electricity, reiterated many times by local leaders, businessmen, and residents.

At present, a bill is pending in Congress seeking to expand the franchise area of Davao Light to parts of Davao del Norte and Davao de Oro. This is House Bill No. 6740 co-authored by Representatives Margarita "Atty. Migs" Nograles  Nograles, Sandro Marcos, Jurdin Jesus Romualdo, and John Tracy Cagas.

HB 6740, however, has remained in limbo as it has yet to progress following a committee hearing in August 2023. PR

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