8-hour daily blackouts hit; solons press for solution
THE 52-strong Mindanao Legislators’ Committee on Sunday said Mindanaoans had been using electric fans instead of air conditioning units and had shifted to energy-efficient bulbs to conserve energy but the eight-hour blackouts were continuing daily.
They urged President Benigno Aquino III to establish a power commission to stop the power crisis in Mindanao. They said Mindanao had a power shortfall of 294 megawatts as the demand there stood at 1,157 megawatts but the power supply was only 863 megawatts.
House Deputy Speaker and Zamboanga City Rep. Maria Isabelle Climaco said Zamboanga City was at the tail end of the power distribution and that strict implementation of extraction was needed.
She proposed the creation of a Mindanao Power Corporation so that hydro-complexes would be self-sufficient without waiting for the national government to come to its aid.
“In March, the power demand of Zamboanga City was 79.821 megawatts but the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation and Therma Marine Inc. could only provide a combined power of 54 megawatts, bringing the shortage to over 24 megawatts that translate to at least seven to eight hours blackout daily,” Climaco said.
Maguindanao Rep. Simeon Datumanong expressed fears of a power disruption in Mindanao during the May 13 polls.
Datumanong said the immediate solution to the power crisis was to assign power barges or tap private power sources to ensure no disruption of the power supply during the elections.
Reacting to the reports of a looming power rate increase in Mindanao, Datumanong said the government should ensure that consumers were not unduly burdened of any such rate increase.
“I think that is inevitable, although the government should try to ensure a reasonable increase so that it will not be very heavy for the poor people,” Datumanong said.
The Energy Regulatory Commission earlier said that if the government decided to buy generator sets to augment the power supply in Mindanao, distribution utilities and cooperatives would have to file a petition to recover the cost of generators.
“It will never be fun in Mindanao with the Aquino government’s introduction of a high-cost power rate solution to the island’s power crisis,” Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño said in a speech during the general assembly of the Davao del Norte Electric Cooperative.
He criticized the government proposal to build bunker- and diesel-fed power plants as “a classic solution that punishes the people for mistakes committed by the government.”
The Department of Energy has proposed to raise the electricity rates in Mindanao to P18 per kilowatt hour due to the construction of bunker or diesel-fired plants.
“This proposal is anti-consumer, anti-environment and anti-Mindanao,” Casiño said.
He said the government should consider tapping renewable energy sources that would be “cleaner, more sustainable and cheaper in the long term.”