Abra faces blackout if it fails to pay debts

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BAGUIO CITY—A geothermal firm has warned Abra it may suffer from blackouts again after Christmas if its power utility fails to pay its obligations, the Philippine Daily Inquirer learned on Friday.

The Aboitiz Power Renewables Inc., which operates the Tiwi-Makban geothermal power in Batangas, Laguna and Albay, issued the Abra Electric Cooperative (Abreco) a disconnection notice on Dec. 17 and warned it would discontinue service on Dec. 27 if the utility firm failed to fulfill its obligations, according to Ria Calleja, Aboitiz Power assistant vice president for corporate branding and communication.

Aboitiz cut power to Abra on Dec. 10 over Abreco’s P20.2-million debt but reconnected service on Dec. 11 when the utility paid P4.9 million.

Calleja said Abreco missed the first three installments of its unsettled bills for Dec. 12, 13 and 14. She said Abreco had not paid its P32-million security deposit and had not processed its membership with the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market on Dec. 15, which would have allowed it access to other power sources should it again face disconnection from Aboitiz.

The blackout raised concerns over the province’s power supply for the 2013 midterm elections. Abra is listed among the 2013 electoral areas of concern because of its history of political violence.

On Wednesday, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said it was ready to beg for consideration from Aboitiz to make sure no blackouts hit the province on election day.

Julius Torres, Comelec Cordillera director, said the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines have backup generators good for 15 hours but canvassing using computers would suffer under a power outage that could occur if Abreco fails to pay its power bills again.

“If worse comes to worst, we will plead to Aboitiz to make sure there is power in Abra for the one or two days of voting and canvassing, although we already received complaints from our field offices that the recent blackout already delayed the printing of voters’ lists,” Torres said.

He said not all election offices in Abra are equipped with generator sets.

“We are prepared [for blackouts] only for the purposes of running the PCOS machines. We will need to be concerned about the canvassing using the counting and canvassing system that would be operated on laptops. The batteries would not last longer than the PCOS machines,” he said.

In 2010, the Comelec conducted an inventory of available generators in the towns to determine where it could source power in an emergency, he said.

“If [Abreco] fails to pay its bills on the 28th of the month, service is stopped. There’s a brownout. If Abreco pays on the 28th of April, the election is safe because it is scheduled on May 13,” said Chief Supt. Benjamin Magalong, Cordillera police director. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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  • Tnosce

    Do Aboitiz Power Renewable Inc. give towns and cities in the Philippines a ” Discount ” in the usage of their electricity if these towns and cities are members of their electric club ? Is this membership fee refundable ? Is there any other electric company that can provide electricity to the town and cities of the Philippines ? ” NO MONOPOLY ” please, Geothermal springs and lakes are natural resources of the Philippines and it should be fairly accessible and enjoyed by all Filipino citizens for leisure too.

  • opinyonlangpo

    Impossible to think how a whole province can be deprived of electricity. Are the consumers not paying? Is there a government in that province? Hello Mr. President, is Abra part of the Philippines? It is a basic necessity so the national government should have a say in this whether it is operated by a private entity or public corporation. Something is literally wrong with the situation involving a whole province, a God forsaken province and the national government should take notice. National electrification your behind.

    • Loggnat

      The culprit is the Abra Electric Cooperative (Abreco) who buys their elecricity to be distributed to the consumers in Abra. The consumers pays Abreco who then uses the money to pay the Aboitiz Power Renewables Inc, the power generating company where Abeco has failed to pay for past unsettled bills. The provincial government should be on top of this problem because it is their constituents that will suffer if power is cut off. If the provincial government cannot or will not act on this problem, the national government should takeover the provincial government because this is a very, very serious problem. Indefinite power outage will affect the health, security, and welfare of the entire province. It will also disenfranchise the voters of the province if it continues for an extended period of time and affects the coming election. The people of Abra should demand an investigation of Abreco to determine what is the reason why they cannot meet their obligation to pay their utility bills and their failure to provide the people of Abra of reliable electric supply which is Abreco’s reason for it’s existence.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/XKETLCWMU33TLFFEAMCIFFUZKA Melanio Calayeg

    If electricity will be cut off in the whole province of Abra , COMELEC  will be having a lot of headache in conducting the election on May…..The province has been under Comelec control every election and it will only worsens as the supply of electric power is not resolve… 

  • joboni96

    ito ang napala natin sa privatization ni zte aroyo

    ginawa ng gobyerno mga malalaking tao ang nakinabang
    na pinagpapatuloy ni pnoy sa ngalan naman ng ppp

    public private partnership daw
    actually private sector gouging the public
    with government connivance

    NATIONALIZE ALL POWER ASSETS
    then resell to coops and pilipinos
    under very transparent management for efficiency

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