Senate ready to probe Panay, Guimaras massive power outage

MANILA. Senator Grace Poe.
MANILA. Senator Grace Poe.Image from Senate of the Philippines website

THE Senate is ready to conduct a review on the 25-year legislative franchise granted to the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) in light of the almost four-day total power outage that hit Panay and Guimaras Island in the first week of 2024.

“A review of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) franchise is within the powers of Congress to determine whether the grantee should shape up or ship out. For a franchise as critical as the operation and management of power transmission lines, there should be no room for inefficiency, mismanagement or blunders,” said Senator Grace Poe, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Services, on Tuesday, January 9, 2024.

“The recurring blackout in Panay Island showed that something needs fixing to ensure uninterrupted delivery of cheap, stable and accessible electricity to our people in Panay. We need to see if the NGCP is keeping up with its obligations under its franchise,” she added.

Earlier, Senators Risa Hontiveros, Imee Marcos and Francis Tolentino filed separate resolutions seeking the conduct of a probe into the massive power outage in Western Visayas.

Hontiveros said there is also a need to strengthen the Department of Energy’s mechanisms to address simultaneous incidents, unplanned shutdown of power plants, and other generation assets.

“Now therefore, be it resolved as it is hereby resolved to call for the Senate Committee on Energy to conduct an investigation in aid of legislation into issues affecting the stability and reliability of the national power grid which recently led to a widespread power outage affecting four provinces on the island of Panay and the island of Guimaras,” Hontiveros said in her resolution.

Tolentino, for his part, said there is a need to determine the cause of power outages and to look into corrective actions to prevent such incidents from happening again.

Marcos said the power outage could be due to lapses in the management of the NGCP, a private-owned company with a 25-year concession contract with the government and a 50-year franchise to operate the country’s power transmission network.

Tolentino and Marcos also both wanted to look into the delays in the completion of grid projects in the affected areas.

“The Visayas-Mindanao Interconnection Project, and the Cebu-Negros-Panay Interconnection projects, all of which are supposed to be completed by 2020 in accordance with the [Transmission Development Plan]. However, this remains uncompleted which has contributed to the inability of the grid to re-route power from other parts of the country to Panay Island,” said Marcos.

Senate energy committee vice chairman Sherwin Gatchalian said the NGCP should pay fines over economic lapses caused by the massive blackout.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. blamed the NGCP for the blackout in Panay and Guimaras Islands.

“Stability involves proactive responses to breakdowns and unexpected events, a duty that NGCP unfortunately has not fulfilled adequately,” he said. (TPM/SunStar Philippines)


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