Senate energy panel starts probe on Luzon brownouts
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate committee on energy opened on Thursday an inquiry into the unexpected brownouts recently experienced by several towns and cities in Luzon.
The hearing was initiated by energy committee chair Senator Sherwin Gatchalian in view of the series of yellow and red alert warnings issued by the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP).
Gatchalian said in an earlier statement that the probe will examine the Department of Energy’s (DOE) inaccurate electricity forecast for the dry season, pointing out that the agency earlier assured the public of ample power supply.
He added that the brownout experienced by residents in Luzon was “totally unacceptable.”
“Definitely, heads must roll this time. We owe it to the power consumers to give them accurate information on the power situation in the country. Mukhang na-overestimate ng DOE ang available capacity ng kuryente natin,” Gatchalian said in a statement.
The senator also asked the DOE and the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) to look into the possible “collusion” among power companies, warning against higher electricity rates and incidents of brownouts during the May elections.
Among the resource persons invited are Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Chairperson Agnes Devanadera, National Power Corporation (NPC) President Pio Benavidez, NGCP President and chief executive officer (CEO) Anthony Almeda and National Transmission Corp. (Transco) President and CEO Melvin Matibag.
Also invited to the hearing are representatives from Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) President Oscar Reyes, Philippine Electric Plant Owners Association (PEPOA), and PCC, among other power distribution companies, stakeholders and consumer groups. /jpv
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