Senator warns of summer brownouts due to 'negligence of power authorities'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 28 2022 11:24 AM

A lineman works on an electric post at the Katuparan housing project in Vitas, Tondo Manila on July 7, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News
A lineman works on an electric post at the Katuparan housing project in Vitas, Tondo Manila on July 7, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - There will be brownouts prior and after the May elections due to the negligence of power authorities, a senator said Friday.

The Department of Energy, National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, and Energy Regulatory Commission have yet to enforce solutions that will address power outage every summer, said Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Energy.

"This seems to me those solutions are not in place yet that's why we have high possibility of experiencing brownout this coming summer season. We will not have brownout on election day," he told ANC's Headstart.

"The simple reason is that walang trabaho eh, no one's going to go to work, walang demand. The problem is a week before that and 2 weeks after that, based on projections of NGCP and historical data."

The DOE has yet to implement to the fullest the Energy Virtual One-Stop Shop (EVOSS), which shortens the process of completing requirements of energy-related projects, according to Gatchalian.

"The EVOSS law is probably being implemented about 10 percent. unfortunately it’s not being pushed to the fullest," he said.

When asked if the DOE was focused on its work, Gatchalian said "there are a lot of laws the DOE remised in implementing."

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi as leader of one faction of PDP-Laban was embroiled in a power struggle as head of ruling-party with presidnetial aspirant Senator Manny Pacquiao.

"I don’t want to mix politics into this issue because I only comment based on the facts and issues I see. The numbers will speak for itself, the top of mind problem the DOE should solve is energy security," he said.

The NGCP, meantime, has contracted only 46 percent of firm reserves, Gatchalian added.

"They should’ve contracted already 100 percent because that (recommendation) was 6 months ago," he said.

"NGCP should understand they are just given a concession to operate meaning the asset is still owned by government, the rules and policies are still being promulgated by government. The NGCP should cooperate, and should be penalized if they don’t."

Gatchalian also called on the ERC to "investigate and penalize" NGCP's non-cooperation. 

"This is one of the most crucial feature of our power sector is for DOE and ERC work together, no fingerpointing. DOE is the policymaker and ERC is the enforcer and also the referee. They have to work symbiotically cannot work in silo," he said.

"The ERC also has the power to penalize all private power industry players and this is very important in order to have order in the power sector."

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