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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Iloilo power firm denies culpability over outages

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A POWER distributor in Iloilo City has taken exceptions to allegations by a legislator that the utility has to be held accountable for the widespread power outages in Panay Island.

In a radio interview, More Electric and Power Corp. (MORE POWER) president and chief executive officer Roel Castro said it was difficult to respond to the charges aired by ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro, which he claimed were baseless.

“It’s difficult to address the statement of Rep. Castro. In fairness and with respect to the Congressman, she doesn’t understand the whole system, and it’s difficult to respond if their basis is wrong. It was just an accusation without basis,” he said.

While the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) have identified the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) as the culprit for the blackouts, Rep. Castro maintained that MORE POWER was responsible for the outages.

“The main accountability is with them because it is NGCP that is tasked with maintaining the stability of the grid. The NGCP said it would finish the Panay-Negros-Cebu Interconnection Project in August 2023. And they were not! We are now in January and they promised this in August,” Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla said..

Panay is the sixth largest island in the Philippines, consisting of the provinces of Aklan, Antique, Capiz, and Iloilo.

MORE POWER’s Castro explained that while it was unavoidable to  have some disturbances or problems in the system, the collapse and subsequent total blackout could have been avoided if NGCP had taken immediate action.

He further explained that at noon on January 2, 83 megawatts were lost from the grid system due to a plant shutdown, which should have been addressed. However, it was followed by six more plant shutdowns.

“After two hours, six more plants sequentially shut down. The question is why there were consecutive shutdowns after two hours. The system operator, NGCP, is supposed to protect the system from collapsing. Seven plants on the island were out, and the fact that a total blackout occurred means that the system was not protected. This is a simplistic understanding of what happened,” Castro said.

The MORE POWER executive  admitted that during the peak of the El Niño Phenomenon, a similar incident could occur if NGCP fails to protect the entire grid system.

“Even if there is enough generating capacity, a similar total blackout could happen again if the system operator will not be active or will not be working,” he added.

Castro  also said they were continuing their coordination with NGCP to restore power to the residents of Iloilo City. Currently, only 48-50 percent of the NGCP’s allocation is available, resulting in only half of the peak demand being met and the province still experiencing rotational brownouts.

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