Fish canneries hit hard by power crisis

Business chamber puts losses in potential sales, higher costs at P300M

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AFP FILE PHOTO

Businesses in southern Mindanao stand to lose as much as P300 million in unrealized sales and higher costs this summer alone due to the seven- to eight-hour power outages crippling the entire Mindanao island.

The biggest losers are the seven canning factories and the deep-sea fishing vessel operators in General Santos City and neighboring South Cotabato province, said Rey Billena, vice president of the General Santos Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

In a statement issued Monday, Billena said the worsening power crisis had forced owners of the factories and vessels to use their own diesel-fed generators, which, he added, are more expensive, and continue paying workers even if the factories were not operating.

They are thus forced to shoulder an additional P2 million in operating costs per day to cover for the fuel and the man-hours, he said. One cannery even lost between P200,000 and P300,000 to pay workers who did not work on certain days because there was no electricity, he added.

Billena disclosed that his own ice cream factory incurred P500,000 in extra costs in one month while other businessmen in the Socsksargen region were planning to close shop temporarily to prevent total bankruptcy, as outages occur daily during working hours.

Socsksargen groups South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos.

“The losses amounted to a total of P8 million to P10 million per cannery per month and there are seven canning factories here,” Billena said.

As of Monday, the Mindanao grid posted a power supply deficit of 207 megawatts.

The Department of Energy is currently racing to put in place measures that would help ease the power supply crunch. But these measures will address the shortage only for the latter part of the year and up to 2015, when the new base load, coal-fired facilities are expected to start operating, it said.

The measures include:

The Interruptible Load Program, wherein entities with their own generators can run their facilities at a cost, instead of deriving power from the main grid;

The Interim Mindanao Energy Market, which will serve as a trading platform for power generation companies to sell their excess capacities;

Provision of loans to electric cooperatives to buy their own gensets to serve as their embedded capacities. Amy R. Remo

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