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Brownouts ruining home appliances in Zamboanga

/ 05:54 PM April 18, 2013

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines—The frequent power outages may turn Zamboanga into a city of junk as more and more appliances are getting busted beyond repair.

Dennis Casas, an appliance repair technician, said that prior to the power outages, which occur at different times of the day, he would be happy to accept three to four repair jobs a day.

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“But these days, before I close shop at 6 p.m., the lowest number of job orders I receive a day would be about 7 to 10. I have to turn many owners away because their units are beyond repair: busted ICs (integrated circuits), screens that explode  due to power surge when electricity returns and other serious damages,” he told the Inquirer.

The problem, Casas said, was that even small repair jobs cannot be completed immediately as his job also requires electricity.

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“A lot of items for repair remain untouched because there is no electricity when we need it most,” he added.

The situation in Casas’ shop is similar to that of Renato Advincula’s.

Advincula, who has been repairing air conditioning units and refrigerators for years now, said he and his helpers always have their hands full.

“We have clients from the government, private companies and other appliance users. They come here to have their damaged units repaired,” he said.

Advincula said most of the appliances brought to his shop were damaged by the abrupt loss of electricity and power surges when electricity is came back on. “The most affected units are air conditioning,” he said.

Advincula said his equipment has not been spared.

“My testers, for example, they also exploded due to the erratic power supply,” he said.

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Advincula agreed with Casas’ view that the power outages could turn Zamboanga into a city of junk.

“Look at the back of my house and you will see what I mean. There are piles of damaged appliances that could not be repaired anymore so the owners decided to leave them there,” he said.

Businessmen were also complaining.

Mike Rasuman, a barter trader, said the power outages discourage customers from entering the Canelar Trading Center.

“When you are inside the trading center during a brownout, it would be too dark for you to navigate the pathways. That’s why people shy away from it, and of course, our shops. We do not sell well these days,” Rasuman added.

Rasuman’s sentiment was echoed by Pedro Rufo Soliven, manager of the Mindpro Citimall here.

He said to cope up with the situation, Mindpro has had to operate its diesel-powered generating set, which raises the mall’s operating  expenses.

Malacañang’s development arm in the South, the Mindanao Development Authority (Minda), said that the hours of power outages experienced in Mindanao would be reduced with the expected re-commissioning of the Iligan Diesel Power Plant.

In some areas rotating brownouts were imposed by the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines under a curtailment scheme due to the continued decline of Lake Lanao’s water level as the summer heat intensifies with little or no rain at all.

Since the start of the summer, the water level at Lake Lanao has been declining and is fast approaching the critical level of 699.15 meters above sea level, according to Napocor advisory.

Lake Lanao powers up the Agus hydropower complex in Lanao and remains one of Mindanao’s major sources of electricity, contributing up to 40 percent of the Mindanao grid’s electricity.

Napocor projects that the critical level could be reached by May if not enough rain comes.

The state-run power generation company said it will be forced to shut down the operation of the Agus plants if the lake’s elevation falls below 698.15 meters.

NGCP said due to the limited electricity coming from the Agus hydropower plants in Lanao, the Mindanao grid is currently experiencing a supply shortfall of more than 280 megawatts.

NGCP said Mindanao’s demand was expected to peak at 1,141 megawatts while the existing capacity of power generators combined stands at a total of 858 megawatts.

With reports from Ryan Rosauro and Allan Nawal, Inquirer Mindanao

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TAGS: appliances, Electricity, power outages, Zamboanga
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