‘No power crisis, only situation’

Published by rudy Date posted on April 3, 2012

DAVAO CITY — The blackouts lasting for six hours or more belie the Energy Department’s claim that Mindanao only experiences 30 minutes to 2 hours of power outages a  day, says a resolution passed by the Kidapawan City Council.

Energy Undersecretary Josefina Patricia Asirit on Tuesday said that the media had blown the power crisis in Mindanao out of proportions, claiming there were no 10, 12- or 15-hour blackouts on the island during a pre-energy summit forum at the Grand Regal Hotel in Davao City.

She refused to call the power shortage in Mindanao a “crisis” and referred to it as a mere “situation” during a press conference after the forum.

The blackouts, she said, were lasting for no more than two hours, and that there were no reports of outages lasting for six hours or more.

But a resolution passed by the Kidapawan City Council recently says the rolling blackouts last seven hours and up to more than eight hours.

Resolution 12-117, passed on March 22, asks President Benigno Aquino III to intervene and find a solution to the crisis that has affected  Cotabato’s economy and the peace-and-order situation in Mindanao.

The resolution says a previous city council resolution has already asked the National Power Corp and the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. to allocate more electricity for Cotabato but to no avail. Instead, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines lowered the province’s allocation to 22.2 megawatts when it needs 35 megawatts. That, the council says, resulting in power outages lasting for eight hours.

The Manila Standard’s reportorial team, which was in Kidapawan City on Monday, experienced the blackouts in the city that lasted for six hours on that day.

The first blackout on Monday lasted for three hours, or from  11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The next took place from about 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Even Alejandro Catacutan, the resident vice president of the Energy Development Corp. that maintains the two Mt. Apo geothermal power plants, said his associates from South Cotabato had confirmed to him that the blackouts were lasting for more than eight hours.

The electric cooperatives in Mindanao opposed the planned privatization of the power plants and power barges during the forum in Davao City.

The Association of Mindanao Rural Electric Cooperatives says the government should put aside the privatization of power barges 101, 102, 103 and 104, which are scheduled for bidding on May 16 of this year.

The planned privatization of the Agus and Pulangi hydro-electric plants should also be deferred as it will help ease the power crisis in Mindanao without resulting in a drastic spike in electricity prices, the group says.

Group president Sergio Dagooc told the forum that those power sources should be rehabilitated to ease the power shortage in the region. If their privatization could not be avoided, the government should at least incorporate safeguards to prevent a sudden increase in the power rates.

Asirit said the position of the Mindanao electric cooperatives would be taken into consideration when Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras met with local government officials and the members of the House of Representatives from Mindanao to resolve the power shortage. –John Anthony Concepcion, Manila Standard Today

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