Group calls for state control of power grid operations, bottom-up energy planning

By Francis Allan Angelo

In the wake of persistent power failures in the island, exacerbated by a recent outage just a day after the new year, the Partido Manggagawa chapter in Panay (PM-Panay) is urging the government to reclaim control of the national grid, a crucial function privatized in 2009.

PM-Panay leader, Mario Andon, emphasized that the power issues faced by Panay are not unique and underscored the broader concerns related to generation and transmission-related problems across the country.

“In light of the ongoing investigations in Congress, the people of Panay are keenly aware of how privatization has led to excessive profits for the power industry, while issues such as high costs, delayed/undelivered projects, and unreliable electricity services persist,” Andon said.

The labor group also criticized the perceived incompetence of energy officials post-privatization, accusing them of keeping the public uninformed about the actual causes of power interruptions.

Andon highlighted the ongoing blame game between the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) and power plant operators on the island, lacking official explanations from the government.

In response to the NGCP’s call for a “whole-of-industry approach,” PM-Panay expressed skepticism, arguing that ugly competition among monopolies might hinder effective resolution of this problem as they all try to gain control of the privatized sectors of the industry.

Instead, the group proposes a bottom-up energy planning approach, emphasizing a multi-stakeholder planning process at the local level as propounded by the Center for Power Issues and Initiatives (CPII), which advocates for the active involvement of civil society organizations (CSOs), local government units (LGUs), academe, labor groups, renewable energy developers, and cooperatives.

Andon highlighted the Ilonggos’ pioneering efforts on this aspect, with multistakeholder planning process having been in place for two decades through the Panay Multi-Stakeholder Power Development Planning (MSPDP) Process initiated in 2004.

PM-Panay believes that adopting this model nationwide will ensure a more inclusive and sustainable energy planning strategy.

The group concluded by emphasizing the need to redefine energy security, urging a shift towards a system that promotes independence, renewable energy, energy democracy, and affordable rates for all citizens.