Brownouts to hit Nueva Ecija, Albay, Olongapo

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Energy Secretary Jericho L. Petilla: No electricity interruption during elections

MANILA, Philippines—At least two provinces and a city in Luzon should brace for brownouts after the electric cooperatives serving them failed to pay billions of pesos in debt to power generation companies, including the state-run Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (Psalm).

In a briefing on Monday, Energy Secretary Jericho L. Petilla said the government-run Pantabangan Municipal Electric Services (Pames) had been disconnected from the Luzon grid as of noon Monday for failing to settle P8.7 million in arrears to the Lopez-led First Gen Hydro Power Corp.

“I did not want to dip my fingers into the Pantabangan issue for now because they already had arrangements. If they need my help, which I think the [Nueva Ecija] governor is [asking for], then the [Department of Energy] will probably come in,” Petilla said.

First Gen Hydro, which owns and operates the 132-megawatt Pantabangan-Masiway hydroelectric complex, disconnected Pames from its grid last year for nonpayment of its obligations. The Lopez firm earlier claimed that Pames had repeatedly failed to honor its obligations to FG Hydro over the past five years.

Pames supplies electricity to the province of Nueva Ecija (see related story).

Meanwhile, Olongapo City also faces possible power outages as the Olongapo Public Utilities Department (PUD) had been issued a disconnection notice upon the request of Psalm, according to Petilla.

“Psalm is going to issue a notice of disconnection. We are looking at the Olongapo situation right now. We just can’t come in. We’d like to look first at how the city government became the distribution utility. At the same time, we need to know their collection efficiency,” Petilla said.

The energy chief further disclosed that the Olongapo City government’s PUD owes P4 billion, mostly to Psalm. The problem, he added, was that the utility had a low collection efficiency and did not have long-term bilateral contracts that could ensure continued earnings.

According to Petilla, San Miguel Energy Corp. earlier supplied power to Olongapo but decided to withdraw the contract after an alleged breach on the part of the PUD.  Psalm then became the default supplier for Olongapo City.

“Psalm can no longer take a big hit. We [DOE] will come in to see the situation, although I’m not as worried because the city government has funds. [The city government’s PUD] has to prioritize this, to come up with a payment scheme because, otherwise, you’ll encounter bigger problems if you don’t have electricity,” Petilla said.

The cash-strapped Albay Electric Cooperative is also in danger of being disconnected from the Luzon grid due to unpaid obligations of about P4 billon, according to Petilla.

He, however, assured consumers there would be adequate power across the country before, during and one week after the May elections.

“By hook or by crook, there will be electricity during the elections. We are coming up with solutions [to ensure the supply],” he said.

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  • wawa2172

    Its the inefficient collection of the cooperative that could be blame for the power supply cutoff form providers. Cooperatives are at the mercy of the consumers though who do not pay their bills promptly or not paying at all.  Illegal tapping is a big problem to cooperatives but it can always pass the losses to paying consumers. Well, this is it, the reality on the ground is now being felt vis-a-vis the pronouncement of the government of high economic growth rate. Di nga makapag bayad ang kuryente eh pano na kaya sa iba pang bagay. Wheee

  • Karabkatab

    Most of these so called electric coops are cash strapped due to corruption, inefficiency and pilferage which the management and the local politicians are directly or indirectly involved.  Why are they cash strapped?  It is because big consumers known and close to the politicians and management do not pay on time or unwilling to pay at all.  We the small consumers are always at the losing end because we pay on time and we shoulder the exorbitant rate due to power losses and pilferage tolerated and condoned by the management.

    • otire

      well said Sir!

  • speedstream2

    Why do some electric coops have such huge debts? Doesn’t this deserve to be thoroughly investigated considering that public welfare is at stake here?

  • otire

    sa mga taga ALECO paki explain kan bayadan nindo? samantalang pinupotol tulos nindo ang connection kung dai tulos makabayad? Dai nindo ipagrason na nalulugi? pigbabayan man kan consumers ang mga losses. hilinga ang ginibo nindo sa pig dakop nindong may illegal connection? bako pig rason pa nindong ako ang nag sumbong saindo. Mga dai kamong kuenta? rumdomon nindo na ang pig uuli nindong pagkabuhay sa pamilya nindo hali sa mga consumedor.

  • streetsweeper71

    malaking misteryo at anong kababalagahan ang nangyayari, bakit di nakakabayad ang Olongapo at lumaki ng ganito ang utang. samantalang kaming mga consumer, hindi pwedeng di makabayad, 1 week ka lang di makabayad puputulan kana. perwisyo pa sa pagbabayad dahil ang pangit ng payment system. sa city hall lang pwede magbayad at 530 ng umaga pa lang dapat magpatatak ka na ng number kundi di aabutan sa dami ng nagbabayad mag hapon, at manual ang pag reresibo kaya ang tagal. ang sungit pa ng mga kahera

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KAGAOIBHOROFBZW3ATJLXHKLQU MaR A

    Albay E-Co is expecting Mt. Mayon Volcano to light the whole province at night..
    Whoever these responsible people are for this problem should be thrown in the volcano’s crater!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/XIFSRWSSPXUF4UIPWTO3NIWCD4 Cindy B

    I am a resident of Olongapo City for almost 26 years now, and I have no choice but to deal with these never ending brownouts. I strongly object to the statement above that PUD has “low collection efficiency”. PUD is under the control of the city government, and both points their fingers to us consumers which is UNFAIR because we all know that that can’t be true. Basic logic suggests that if “most” of the consumers do not pay their electric dues then these nonpaying consumers ought to have their electric service lines disconnected. However, it can be seen that the electric consumption in Olongapo City is not only steady, rather it is in an increasing pace. We don’t need rocket science to figure this out. PUD should be privitized. Olongapo City Goverment should be audited. P4billion worth of the public’s electric payment could not have vanished into thin air. This is outrageous.

  • Brian Jaravata

    Mukhang alam ko na kung sino hindi ko iboboto sa Election…mapa mayor man o mapa senador…pare pareho…iisa apelyido pero bakit pinabayaan ang mga taga olongapo…hindi ako nakatulog sa gabi dahil sa gabi pinatay ang ilaw…tama ba un?

  • Cee Dilznik

    These constant brown outs in Olongapo are extremely frustrating.  How on earth can this be happening?  It’s 2013 for crap sake.  These Olongapo monkeys should be led to a field and shot in the back of the head. Olongapo and SBMA are the biggest mismanaged jokes on the entire planet Earth.  When are people going to stop putting up with is incessant bovine scatology.

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