Palawan suffers daily rotational blackouts
PALAWAN, Philippines (UPDATED) – Persistent power outages are making summertime in mainland Palawan even hotter, and locals are fuming over the seeming lack of solution to the problem.
Distribution franchise operator Palawan Electric Cooperative (Paleco) blames the prolonged power trip-offs on the inability of its 3 independent power producers (IPPs) to stabilize the energy supply, particularly during summer when demand peaks.
Currently, the peak energy demand in the Palawan mainland grid – which includes Puerto Princesa, southern Palawan towns, and Roxas town in the north – is pegged at 45.8 megawatts (MW). The contracted power supply from 3 IPPs is 53.7 MW.
Despite that, Paleco has been implementing rotational blackouts lasting for several hours on an almost daily basis since the last week of April. At the same time, the IPPs' power generator sets often break down due to low voltage, making them scramble to put the generators under preventive and corrective maintenance.
"We implement the rotational blackouts primarily because of low voltage," Paleco spokesperson Vicky Basilio told Rappler. "There's a certain voltage that we need to meet in order to avoid all IPPs' power generator sets from tripping that can cause total blackout."
Making the problem worse, there is line fault brought by tripping of power transformers, and continuous upgrading of the tie line (from 13.8 kV to 69 kV) of the National Power Corporation (Napocor) to accommodate more power load of up to 90 MW.
"Once the tie line is upgraded, it would help in regulating the voltage," she said.
The outages, plaguing the province for years, have left Palaweños dissatisfied with the service of Paleco. Some even vented their ire on Paleco's Facebook page, criticizing the company for its seemingly chronic inefficiency.
Palaweño netizens complain of the breakdown of some of their appliances, while others say their bills spiked. Owners of small business and employees of offices with no generator sets also lament how the blackouts have affected their operations.
What makes the public even more exasperated is the relevation that it is not possible to penalize two of Paleco's IPPs because a "penalty clause" was not included in their power supply agreements (PSAs) with Paleco.
"PPGI and Delta P contracts have no penalty clause, while DMCI has in its contract," Basilio said. "PPGI contract will be amended by including such clause and the signing will be next week."
She added that such clause will be included in its new PSA with Delta P, which would be providing additional 26.6 MW dependable capacity. "The new contract is on top of the current contract of Delta P which will expire in 2019."
"The [power] plant is already in place. We're just waiting for the Department of Energy to release a certificate of endorsement. After which, the Energy Regulatory Commission will issue a certificate of approval for our PSA with Delta P and the said plant can operate commercially."
Basilio said it would greatly help augment the energy supply in the mainland Palawan grid especially that the new terminal of the Puerto Princesa International Airport is now operational, while big establishments like a mall are being built. – Rappler.com