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Power crisis hits Palawan

Electric cooperative blames low supply, delay in approval of new contract for frequent outages
By: - Correspondent / @demptoanda
/ 12:40 AM May 06, 2017
While tourists will not need electricity to enjoy pristine destinations in Palawan province, like this islet called Isla Puting Buhangin in Honda Bay, residents and business owners are complaining about the power crisis gripping the mainland. —EV ESPIRITU

While tourists will not need electricity to enjoy pristine destinations in Palawan province, like this islet called Isla Puting Buhangin in Honda Bay, residents and business owners are complaining about the power crisis gripping the mainland. —EV ESPIRITU

PUERTO PRINCESA CITY—An acute power supply shortage affecting mainland Palawan has pushed the province into an energy crisis with no immediate end in sight.

Unscheduled power interruptions, occurring two to three times daily, have left consumers furious and demanding action from Palawan Electric Cooperative (Paleco), which operates the distribution franchise in the province.

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Consumers, randomly organizing themselves mainly through social media, have scheduled a series of protest actions directed at Paleco and government agencies which they blamed for the debilitating power situation.

Angry posts about Paleco’s quality of service and complaints about breakdown of household appliances have flooded the cooperative’s social media page.

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According to Paleco officials, the power supply the cooperative is receiving from independent power producers (IPPs) is not enough to meet the demand, due mainly to the breakdown of power generator sets suffered by at least three IPPs.

They also blamed the supposed inaction of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) on a major power supply agreement, pending before the ERC board, that would stabilize power supply in the province.

“There is a new contract (with Delta P Power Co.) for 30 megawatts (MW). We’re awaiting ERC’s approval and it’s taking an unreasonably long time since we submitted it to them in February,” said Ric Zambales, Paleco general manager.

The Delta P contract, which Paleco officials noted was supported by the Department of Energy, would have given the cooperative enough reserve to meet the domestic power demand pegged at 50 MW daily.

Delta P’s pending contract, if approved by ERC, would raise the electricity supply in the mainland grid to at least 80 MW of “dependable capacity,” Zambales said.

“While they are evaluating [the agreement], and since we have complied with all the requirements, they could have issued a provisional authority to Delta P so [the firm] could start providing the additional supply even while building [its] power plants,” he said.

Zambales expressed concern that a “third party,” which he did not identify, was allegedly blocking the Delta P contract in the ERC.

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