Power shortage hits Puerto Princesa, threatens city growth
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—The city government said Tuesday it is facing a critical shortage of electricity as rapid tourism-led growth led to unprecedented demand for power and brownouts that are taking their toll on the local economy.
Concerned over the Palawan Electric Cooperative’s (Paleco) failure to find a permanent solution to the power shortage, Mayor Edward Hagedorn vowed the city government would take over power generation “if Paleco cannot get its act together.”
The current power suppliers of Paleco, that generates a combined 35.7 megawatts of peak power, have been suffering from breakdowns of diesel-fired engines resulting in repeated brownouts.
“We are looking at a serious situation already and I am concerned about Paleco’s delays in finding a permanent solution to the power shortage situation,” Hagedorn said.
Paleco, which has the distribution franchise for most of mainland Palawan consisting mainly of this city and the outlying towns of Aborlan, Taytay and Roxas, has recently admitted it was having difficulty meeting a growing demand for electricity.
Lawyer Rohima Sara, the Paleco general manager, said the firm was “way behind schedule” in a process to bid out a contract to supply 25 MW of electricity to Paleco.
“If Paleco does not fix this, all our efforts that have led to an unprecedented growth of tourism will be gone to waste,” Hagedorn said.
He said he has ordered city officials to study ways for the city government to produce its own power.
A local judge lifted early this week an indefinite injunction it imposed on Paleco bidding process that was sought by a private power firm complaining about flaws in the Paleco bidding system.
Sara said Paleco has resumed the bidding process after two months of delay but “we need to do a lot of catching up.”
Hagedorn urged Paleco to “find a responsible company that would not renege on its obligations once it gets the contract.”
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