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Gatchalian: “Drastic moves” needed to solve Palawan power crisis

PASAY CITY, Philippines – Consulting a copy of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001, Senate Committee on Energy chair and Joint Congressional Power Commission (JCPC) co-chair Win Gatchalian (2nd from L) in a huddle with his fellow lawmakers from Congress during a JCPC hearing, 27 Sept. 2017. Gatchalian has prodded Palawan Electric Cooperative (Paleco) officials to invoke its legal right to immediately terminate power supply agreements with under-performing generation firms that contribute to the province’s crippling power crisis. Photo by Mark Cayabyab/OS WIN GATCHALIAN

Alarmed by the grave impact of the Palawan energy crisis on the provincial economy, Senator Win Gatchalian is pressing the Palawan Electric Cooperative (Paleco) to make “drastic moves” to immediately resolve the frequent brownouts that have plagued the province since the beginning of the year.

According to data provided by the Senate Energy Committee during a hearing held this week to probe the power situation in Palawan, even just a single hour without electricity costs the province between P6.1 to P10.7 million in economic productivity losses.

“Palawan is a fast-developing economic and tourism center. The volatility of its power supply will pull back the development of the province, to the detriment of the Palaweños. Let us all make sure that the gains made by the island province are not laid to waste due to the sluggish action of the government,” said Gatchalian, the chairman of the Senate Energy Committee.

One of the solutions proposed by Gatchalian was for Paleco to invoke its legal right to immediately terminate power supply agreements with under-performing generation companies.

“Pag-aralan niyo ang mga performance ng mga gencos. Kung sino doon ang nagbibigay sa inyo ng problema, i-recommend niyo na i-rescind. Kung may violation, i-rescind na natin. You have to stop accommodating them because if we keep on accommodating them, walang mangyayari dito. I guarantee you, the law is on your side,” Gatchalian told Paleco as he recommended the undertaking of a new competitive selection process (CSP) to find alternative energy sources to replace the erring gencos and provide a stable energy supply for the province.

Huwag kayong matatakot. The regulators, the NEA and ERC, and the Senate are behind you. Do the right thing for the Palaweños….Nandito kami para protektahan kayo. Importante, protektahan niyo iyong mga Palaweños,” he added.

The Senate Committee on Energy and stakeholders in the local energy industry of Palawan also agreed that a change in the order of dispatch in the coverage area of the Palawan Electric Cooperative (Paleco) is a viable provisional solution to the protracted power crisis.

“From what I see, just rearranging your dispatch, may immediate results na iyan,” Gatchalian said.

The NEA and ERC agreed with the proposal for Paleco, as the system operator, to change its priority dispatch according to plant design: base load generating units (low speed) must be prioritized while peaking load (high speed generating units) must be the last dispatch. Changing the order of dispatch, they concurred, would have “immediate” impact on the power outages by stabilizing electricity supply.