DAVAO CITY ,Philippines – Local officials in Mindanao have accused the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) of creating an artificial power shortage by scheduling daily blackouts of up to 12 hours.
Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) chairman Lualhati Antonino said the NGCP is “fooling” the people about the real power situation in Mindanao to favor certain investors.
“I accuse NGCP of fooling us, of not telling the truth, of not fully disclosing. There is no power shortage at all as there is so much water for what is required for Mindanao’s hydroelectric power demand,” Antonino said.
NGCP has imposed blackouts for several weeks now, citing what it described as acute power shortage.
Mindanao is largely dependent on hydroelectric power generated by Pulangi River in Bukidnon and Lake Lanao in Marawi City.
Antonino said the NGCP is not telling the truth with regards to the water levels in both water sources. “I know there is still a total of 65 megawatts that remain untapped and they were claiming there is not enough water,” she added.
Antonino said several other local officials in Mindanao have signified their protest against NGCP’s manipulation of the power situation.
The House committee on energy is set to conduct a hearing on the power crisis in Mindanao today, which Antonino said would be attended by various stakeholders in the power industry in the region.
“I cannot understand why we are experiencing power outages when we have the geothermal plants. We should not be made to suffer when we host two geothermal plants,” North Cotabato Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza said.
Mendoza said it is time to revisit both the Electric Power Industry Reform Act and the Renewable Energy Act.
Mendoza also opposed the proposed privatization of the Pulangi V hydroelectric power system, which she said would make power expensive.
Mendoza said NGCP is creating a scenario that would pave the way for the privatization of Pulangi V with the artificial power shortage it was creating.
Antonino also claimed the NGCP is in cahoots with big power players who want to rake huge profits from the Mindanao situation.
Tiolo Soliven, president of the Zamboanga City Chamber of Commerce and Industry said businesses, which were affected by the blackout, have already taken steps to address the shortage of power problem by talking with local electric cooperatives.
“We have to brace for longer power outages now. That is why to ensure that we can strike a zero power outage solution the business sector is taking the initiative,” Soliven said.
The business leader, however, said the local cooperative’s plan of contracting an additional 18 megawatts will not be sufficient because the city needs a total of 28 MW. – With Roel Pareño - By Edith Regalado