North Cot brown-outs anger councilors

Sep. 01, 2013

Davao Today

KIDAPAWAN CITY—Councilors are calling for an investigation over the continuing brownouts in many parts of North Cotabato.

The Cotabato Electric Cooperative (Cotelco) announced few weeks ago that it is implementing rotating brownouts for three to six hours as repairs and maintenance of power plants in parts of Mindanao cut short the energy supply to its service areas in PALMA area (Pigkawayan, Pikit, Aleosan, Libungan, Midsayap and Alamado) and in parts of Northern Kabuntalan, Pagalungan and Datu Montawal in Maguindanao.

Kidapawan City councilor Lauro Tanayan, who chairs the council’s committee, is outraged by this situation.

“I can’t take this drama, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) should be investigated. In times of drought, they say they had shortage of power supply; now in rainy season, they say generator plants are either on preventive maintenance or on force shut down status. What’s the real story?” Taynan asked during a press forum with the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines Kidapawan chapter.

Cotelco spokesperson Vincent Bagio said Agus 6 hydropower plant underwent a 66-day preventive maintenance while both the STEAG State Power coal-fired power plant in Misamis Oriental and Agus 2 hydro-power plant in Lanao del Norte shut down due to malfunctioning.

Cotelco’s peak power supply is pegged at 28 MW. But due to the shortage, the company suffered from April to July where it supplied less than 20MW.

Taynan questioned NGCP for cutting power allocation to Cotelco by 30 per cent, which forced the cooperative to enter into contract with TMI (Therma Marine, Inc.), owned by power giant Aboitiz Power, at a higher cost of P8/MW.

Neophyte councilor Ruby Padilla-Sison scored this scheme saying NGCP is favoring the “power cartel” of Aboitiz, Lopez, Cojuangco and Sy” by staging this power shortage to hasten the privatization of Napocor and the cartel’s takeover of electric cooperatives.

“It’s outrageous for the government to sell the country’s vital industries like power to the profit-greedy private investors and let its people suffer the brunt of rotational brown-outs and high cost of electricity, “ Sison told Davao Today.

Taynan and Sison said they would follow up on a previous resolution urging the Department of Energy to provide to Cotelco the 25-percent emergency load dispatch from the two geothermal power plants located in Mount Apo.  The move was supported by 34 women organizations under the Kidapawan City- Local Council of Women.

Kidapawan hosts the Mindanao Geothermal Production Field owned by the Energy Development Center that provides 104MW from Mount Apo.

Sison, meanwhile warned the public to oppose the government’s plan to construct the Mount Apo Geothermal 3 plant, hinting that the additional geothermal generating wheel will be used to energize big private mining investments coming to Mindanao.

The Makabayan Peoples Coalition initiated last year two barricades at the entrance road towards the Mt. Apo Geothermal plants, mobilizing religious and business sectors to oppose the construction of the new geothermal plant and to call for affordable power supply. (Danilda L. Fusilero/

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