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Iloilo power firms asked to explain brownouts

By Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
Inquirer Visayas
First Posted 19:24:00 11/07/2010

Filed Under: Electricity Production & Distribution

ILOILO CITY?The City Council has asked the city?s lone power distributor to explain the continuous daily brownouts that have severely affected commercial and government services and raised angry complaints from residents.

Councilor R. Leone Gerochi, chair of the city council?s committee on transportation and public utilities, said on Sunday that his committee has asked the Panay Electric Co. (Peco) and the Panay Power Corp. (PPC) to explain the oftentimes unannounced brownouts occurring several times daily lasting up to several hours.

Peco is the lone power distributor of the city?s 180 barangays, while PPC is the sole power supplier of Peco.

Gerochi said the committee?s investigation is focusing on whether the Peco has failed to provide stable power supply to the city and if the PPC-Peco power purchase agreement to provide 72 megawatts is being implemented.

Both Peco and PPC were asked to submit their explanations on the power interruptions being investigated by Gerochi?s committee.

Gerochi said they were also investigating whether the power interruptions were mainly caused by lack of supply as claimed by Peco or inefficiencies and problems in distribution.

He said documents provided by Peco to the Energy Regulatory Commission showed that some of the power interruptions were caused by malfunctioning of facilities and distribution faults.

But engineer Randy Pastolero, Peco operations manager, said only 10 percent of power outages were due to distribution problems and 80 percent resulted from lack of power supply.

The PPC and Peco have an existing contract for PPC to supply 72 MW to Peco but only 69 MW is being supplied, according to Pastolero.

He said the available supply is below the peak power demand of the city reaching up to 78 MW from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and the shortage is compounded when power generator units of PPC malfunction resulting to several brownouts daily.

Pastolero said they have tried to source out from other power distributors to alleviate the shortage but could only get minimal commitment because other areas in the Visayas are also experiencing power shortages.

?The problem affects the entire Visayas grid and it is unfair to put the blame entirely on power distributors,? Pastolero told the Inquirer in a telephone interview on Sunday.

Pastolero said the power supply in the city will stabilize once Peco is supplied by the 164-MW coal-fired power plant of the Panay Energy Development Corp. (PEDC), a sister company of PPC.

The coal plant is scheduled to go online this month pending the approval of a new power supply agreement between PEDC and Peco.

Under the Peco-PEDC power supply agreement, the coal-fired power plant will supply Peco with 65 MW and another 15 MW from the PPC?s diesel plant.

The operation of the coal plant has been stalled over complaints from residents near the facility of alleged foul emissions coming from the plant during the testing of its boiler facility in September.

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