GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/3 April) — The city council here has expressed support to mounting calls for President Benigno Aquino III to use his emergency powers to effectively address the worsening power crisis in Mindanao.
The council passed a resolution during its regular session on Tuesday “strongly requesting” the President to specifically adopt emergency measures to expedite the resolution of the continuing power shortage in the critical Mindanao grid.
City Councilor Elizabeth Bagonoc, the resolution’s author, said it’s time for the national government to flex its muscles to finally resolve the problem, which has caused prolonged daily rotating brownouts in the area lasting a total of 14 hours.
The rotating brownouts, which started in early 2010 and have worsened since last year, was mainly blamed on the severe load cuts imposed by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) as a result of the declining generation capacity of the National Power Corporation’s (Napocor) hydroelectric plants.
“We’ve been urging (the government) for how many years already to put a stop to these brownouts,” she stressed.
Bagonoc said the continuing long brownouts have severely affected the operations of local businesses as well as government and private offices.
“It is pestering not only the lives of businessmen but of the ordinary citizens as well,” she said.
Bagonoc originally introduced the resolution during its regular session last week but the council decided to defer its action on the matter due to the scheduled regional power forum here last March 25 that was joined by Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla.
The councilor, who heads the council’s majority bloc, also authored a pending resolution requesting the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to look into the possibility of declaring a state of calamity in the city due to the negative impact of the long brownouts to the local economy and human health.
The local business sector earlier joined calls for the President to use his emergency powers to resolve the power crisis in Mindanao.
In support of the move, administration lawmakers proposed for the granting by Congress of the necessary emergency powers to the President to address the power situation in Mindanao more swiftly.
Malacañang said last week it is already looking into the proposal but noted that the Department of Energy and other stakeholders in the island were already working on possible solutions to the problem.
Distribution utility South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative (Socoteco II) is presently implementing daily rotating brownouts lasting seven hours for each of its two feeder grouping, or a total of 14 hours due to the power shortage.
Socoteco II, which has a daily average peak power demand of 112 MW, serves this city, the entire Sarangani province and the municipalities of Tupi and Polomolok in South Cotabato.
In the last two weeks, Napocor’s power allocation to the area only ranged from 40 to 49 MW, resulting to a deficit of between 33 to 40 MW.
Aboitiz-owned Therma Marine Inc. (TMI) augments the area’s power supplies by 30 MW based on a power sales agreement that it earlier signed with the electric cooperative.
Socoteco II forged the sales deal with TMI in 2011 after Napocor slashed the area’s power allocation to the area by 30 percent or from 104 MW to 72 MW in 2012.
This year, Napocor imposed another 30 percent cut to the area’s power supplies or specifically from 72 MW to 52 MW. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)