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Monday, May 27, 2024

Power supply that all should have

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Reliable and affordable power is obviously indispensable and therefore the distribution utility that will be engaged to deliver this critical service must have the proven performance, capacity, and resources

For four consecutive days last week, the National Grid Corporation raised red and yellow alerts in the Luzon and Visayas power grids despite earlier statements by the Department of Energy there will be enough power supply in all grids during this dry season and that “there is no power crisis in the Philippines.”

DOE’s statement was based on the assumption there would be no unscheduled power plant outages except for those scheduled for maintenance.

But like every summer season, hydropower plants usually shut down because of low water levels while other power plants shut down or operate on limited capacity causing a power deficit in the Luzon and Visayas grid.

The high temperatures were reported to have affected 19 power plants resulting in manual load dropping, in other words, rotational brownouts in the provinces.

This didn’t happen in the Meralco franchise areas where the Interruptible Load Program was able to activate about 100 private enterprises to help ease power demand by using their own back-up generators.

Having resided in Metro Manila and under the Meralco franchise for more than six decades, living with 99.9 percent uninterrupted electricity has been the norm.

The few brownouts that were usually caused by extreme weather of catastrophic levels were just rare inconveniences.

This reliability in power supply is foundational to the productivity and prosperity of this megapolis and its adjacent regions which have been the leading contributors to the country’s annual Gross National Product.

However, for 80 percent of the country’s electricity consumers, the situation is very different with some provinces tipping the crisis level because of inefficient and expensive power distribution services.

In nearby Batangas and Laguna, local government leaders are taking action against their distribution utilities because of the poor services suffered by their respective constituents.

Nasugbu residents and business owners reported frequent brown outs have been damaging equipment and appliances.

They have petitioned their local leaders to kick out their current DU and shift to Meralco which already services parts of adjacent provinces in Rizal, Quezon and Laguna.

Ten mayors of Laguna province have appealed to the House of Representatives to reject the renewal of the legislative franchise of First Laguna Electric Cooperative, citing poor services and “unreasonably high” electricity rates.

Last year, the province of Occidental Mindoro was placed under a state of calamity because of 20- hour daily brown outs. You can imagine the misery and economic damage to all residents and enterprises in the province.

Similar problems are happening in Pampanga where court cases have been filed against BATELEC 1 for poor services that badly affected the operations of several businesses.

Six Mayors of the province have appealed to the Energy Regulatory Commission to step in and help address the high power rates of Pampanga Electric Cooperative 3.

Emerging growth areas like Batangas, Pampanga and Laguna should have the adequate power infrastructure to support their aspirations to be as prosperous as Metro Manila.

Batangas is the second richest province in the Philippines (Commission on Audit 2020).

It is an active economic driver of the CALABARZON region which has one of the highest Gross Domestic Product per capita in the country. Batangas on its own is the 3rd largest GDP contributor of the region after Laguna and Cavite.

Pampanga is the economic driver of Central Luzon being the region’s highest GDP contributor of the region and has the 6th highest GDP pre capita in the country.

Significant infrastructure improvements have made it very accessible to Manila and has seen steady economic growth fueled by agriculture, manufacturing, and services and tourism.

As these regions pursue their visions for development, they have the opportunity to learn from the lessons of Metro Manila and plan communities, business hubs, industrial centers, and infrastructure with the latest technological innovations that embrace the value of sustainability.

Reliable and affordable power is obviously indispensable and therefore the distribution utility that will be engaged to deliver this critical service must have the proven performance, capacity, and resources, to stay ahead of the power demand of its franchise areas.

The continuous and stable power supply that 7.8 million customers of Meralco are so used to is something everyone needs, and should have.


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