Power outages, supply contracts | Inquirer Opinion

Power outages, supply contracts

/ 10:10 PM May 27, 2013

One may be hard put to find fault with the quick and efficient response of the Department of Energy under newly appointed Secretary Jericho L. Petilla to the May 8, 2013, massive power outage in Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon.

But this must be said still: The blackout once more highlighted (no irony intended) the need for the DOE, as mandated by the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira), to ensure the stable supply of electricity. Needless to say, the blackout served as a reminder for the DOE to look closely into the country’s entire power demand and supply levels by requiring all the generation companies and the only corporation that transports all electricity from the generators to the 140 distribution utilities in the country, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), to submit a report on the capacities of their respective power plants.

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The important function of transporting electricity has been taken away from the National Transmission Corporation and awarded to NGCP, which is also mandated to provide all the ancillary services in the event of sudden power plants shutdown like what happened last May 8, through power supply contracts with generation companies. The costs of all these power supply contracts are passed on to the consumers through the generation, transmission and system loss charges, which we see on our monthly electric bills.

We cannot understand why we still suffer massive—worse, sudden—power outages (disturbances, they say). After all, we have the Epira which supposedly mandates the stable, efficient, affordable and secured supply of electricity. Twelve years after Epira’s enactment, power outage is simply no longer acceptable.

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There are reports that an ongoing investigation is being conducted by the DOE to find out the real cause of the May 8 blackout and what must be done to prevent a similar incident from happening. This investigation should be made public and it can start with the full disclosure of all existing power supply contracts. Common sense dictates that nothing can be confidential when the business is a monopoly and its operation is imbued with public interest, as the transmission business is.

We stand firmly on the Supreme Court decision which says that the operation of a public utility substitutes for the state’s performance of a public service.

—PETE L. ILAGAN,

president,   

National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms Inc.,

10 Bayside Court Compound,

60 Quirino Avenue, Tambo,

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Parañaque City 1700,

[email protected]

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TAGS: Consumer issues, Electricity, Energy, Epira Law, Government, power outages
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