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Gatchalian Seeks Solution to Frequent Palawan Brownouts

Senator Win Gatchalian has ordered the National Electrification Administration (NEA) to look into the liability of stakeholders in the spate of prolonged power outages that have plagued Palawan since the beginning of this year.

Gatchalian, who is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy, gave the NEA until Friday, August 11, to conduct its investigation and submit its findings and recommendations to the Committee.

"Being the over-all regulator of electric cooperatives, NEA must help identify the root cause of the power interruptions and determine the liability of the PALECO (Palawan Electric Cooperative) for not being able to immediately address the issue," Gatchalian said during a formal dialogue with Palawan energy stakeholders, which was recently held at the Senate.

The Senate Committee on Energy initiated the dialogue in the midst of growing complaints of frequent and long power interruptions from consumers in the PALECO franchise areas, which includes Puerto Princes City, the mainland municipalities of Dumaran, El Nido (Bacuit), Roxas, San Vicente, Taytay, Bataraza, Brooke's Point, Narra, Quezon, Rizal (Marcos), Sofrono Espanola and Aborlan, and the island municipalities of Agutaya, Araceli, Cagayancillo, Cuyo, Magsaysay and Balabac.

Data gathered by the Committee showed a maximum of 18 hours of System Average Interruption Duration Index (SAIDI), or the length of power interruption experienced by consumers, in the PALECO-covered areas, with a frequency of at least nine (9) times a month since January this year.

"It is the responsibility of the NEA to ensure that all covered areas of electric cooperatives get reliable power. In this case, PALECO's customers are experiencing serious problems of power outages. NEA needs to step in now, huwag na natin itong lalo pang patagalin," Gatchalian appealed.

The senator said the Committee's internal investigation indicated that the power shortage mess was prompted by the failure of independent power producer DMCI Power to deliver the 25 megawatt Guaranteed Dependable Capacity in its Power Supply Agreement with the PALECO, and the electric cooperative's seeming inaction on the violation of the agreement.

Gatchalian chided DMCI Power for the breach of its contractual obligation and gave it until August 11 to submit a detailed action plan and timetable on how it will fulfil the 25 MW power supply requirement under its interim PSA.

Also, Gatchalian urged the PALECO leadership to review all of its existing PSAs with its IPPs, which include DMCI Power, Palawan Power Generation Inc. and Delta Power, to check if they comply with their power supply commitments.

"Since you guys are in the front line, I strongly suggest that you review your PSAs, bring them to the Board and to your legal counsel. In our own analysis, you have the right to rescind contracts for non-fulfillment," he said, giving the PALECO until the end of August to submit its report.

"As the chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy, I want to help Palawan as much as I can. We called for this dialogue to find a solution to this compounding problem in Palawan, especially in Puerto Princesa. Let's find a solution and narrow it down to a timetable. Kasi hindi lang po importante na makahanap tayo ng solution, dapat may timetable rin tayo. If we don't put timetables and we are not firm with our decisions, we will not be able to solve this, magpa-paikot-ikot lang tayo," Gatchalian said.

The dialogue was attended by Palawan Rep. Gil P. Acosta, officials from the Department of Energy, the Energy Regulatory Commission, the National Power Corporation, the NEA and the PALECO, and representatives from private power generators Palawan Power Generation Inc. (PPGI), Delta Power and DMCI Power. Another meeting is tentatively set by the end of the month.

Source: Senate of the Philippines

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