House panel prodded to probe power blackout

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

Six members of the House of Representatives from Visayas on Tuesday called on the Energy committee to investigate the power outages over the last weekend of April, which crippled the islands of Panay, Guimaras, and Negros.

House Resolution (HR) No. 933 was filed Tuesday, “urging the Congressional Committee on Energy to immediately conduct an inquiry, in aid of legislation, on the region-wide unscheduled and intermittent blackout in Western Visayas.”

The text of the resolution narrated the disturbances in the Visayas grid on April 27, 28, and 29 as monitored by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), and later blamed on a line owned by a distribution utility (DU).

This line was later identified as that of Central Negros Electric Cooperative, Inc. (CENECO), which serves Bacolod City and neighboring towns and cities in Negros Occidental, but this was not mentioned in the resolution.

But the resolution did cite the confusion caused by the announcements of the NGCP, which were echoed by Iloilo Electric Cooperatives (ILECO) I, II, and III.

NGCP announcements were also echoed by other DUs in the region including CENECO, Aklan Electric Cooperative (AKELCO), Antique Electric Cooperative (ANTECO), Capiz Electric Cooperative (CAPELCO), Guimaras Electric Cooperative (GUIMELCO) Northern Negros Electric Cooperative (NONECO), and Negros Occidental Electric Cooperative (NOCECO).

The resolution ultimately pointed to NGCP’s repeated statements on coordination and its citing of DUs as “more confusing.”

“[W]hile the NGCP stated that ‘it has been coordinating with generators and distribution utilities to work on the expeditious restoration of affected NGCP lines and facilities’, it also clarified that ‘power supply, distribution, and transmission are three different parts of the power system and that NGCP, as the transmission provider, has no stake in power supply nor distribution’,” the resolution stated.

“[S]uch statement could cause more confusion and therefore, there is a need to find out what really triggered the power outage and who should be made accountable,” it added.

The investigation was also aimed at coming up with an “immediate solution to address the impending power crisis” and for Congress to adopt necessary legislative measures to prevent a future similar occurrence.

HR No. 933 was filed by Representatives James Ang (Uswag Ilonggo Party-list), Julienne Baronda (Iloilo City-Lone), Jose Francisco Benitez (Negros Occidental-3rd), Lorenz Defensor (Iloilo-3rd), Michael Gorriceta (Iloilo-2nd), and Raul Tupas (Iloilo-5th).

The committee is chaired by Rep. Lord Allan Jay Velasco (Marinduque-Lone).

Daily Guardian has reached out to Ang, a member of the committee, for more details, but he was unavailable due to being in transit as of this writing.