Outraged over power outage

By Herbert Vego

SENATOR members of the Senate Committee on Energy, apparently riding on public outrage over four-day Panay-wide power outages, had no choice but to slam the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) in last Wednesday’s inquiry.

This corner agrees: NGCP had misled the audience by claiming that the grid was still in a “normal” condition when the massive blackouts had already hit Panay Island and a few nearby areas of the Visayas.

An NGCP representative in that Senate Inquiry tried to belie the published and aired pronouncement of Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla that the blackouts could have been prevented had the grid responded to the trips-off of the Panay Energy Development Corporation (PEDC) and the Palm Concepcion Power Corp. (PCPC) Unit 1.

NGCP could have found a solution aimed at preventing a repetition of similar problems that had struck the same areas in the fourth week of April 2023.

How could it be so inefficient when, according to Google, it reported an annual revenue of ₱36. 7 billion in 2022? What if the greedy grid investors were pocketing most of it?

Obviously, the monopolistic transmission grid had earned more income in one year than the losses incurred by its customers during the four-day outages.

As Mayor Jerry Treñas reported by zoom during the Senate hearing, Iloilo City had incurred losses amounting to ₱2 billion. He asked the city to look for the culprits and hold them accountable, asking NGCP to pay.

“The last time this happened in April of 2023, no one was held accountable,” he reminded the Senate. “Unfortunately, some of our friends in the legislature were trying to help defend those who are guilty. This time, we will not allow those people who are responsible to get away with this.”

Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr., attending in person, estimated the province’s economic losses at ₱3.8 billion. He pleaded for completion of the ongoing work on phase 3 of the Cebu-Negros-Panay (CNP) “backbone” and other ancillary civil structures to fortify the grid.

The Iloilo City’s distribution utility, MORE Power, had also incurred business losses over a fault not its own.   Because of this, MORE Power President/CEO Roel Z. Castro had to dispute the accusation of ACT party-list Rep. France Castro (no relation) that the company was also accountable.

As for me, I stand pat on my suggestion that the country’s political leadership find a way to nullify the 40% stake of the China-owned State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) before it could do more harm than blackouts, as in claiming more of our territories at the West Philippine Sea.



IT looks as if the provincial government of Antique has neglected to exploit its own renewable energy resources.

This is the impression I get from reviewing the Jan. 8 privilege speech of Sangguniang Panlalawigan member Pio Jessielio Sumande, which was all about the need to create the Energy Council that would craft an ordinance for tapping local renewable energy resources.

Good work, SP Pio. But why only now when it would presuppose a knee-jerk reaction to the four-day Panay-wide rotational blackouts?

Anyway, my amigo Pio cited the extraction of coal at Semirara, Caluya by the Semirara Mining and Power Corporation and the eight-megawatt capacity of the Villasiga Hydro Power Plant in Bugasong. I am not aware whether Villa Siga is already active.

However, he deplored that nothing had as yet been done to tap the province’s renewable hydropower resources such as the waterfalls in the towns of Culasi, Valderrama, and San Remigio.

Unfortunately, there seems to be nobody interested in putting up a power-generating plant within Antique.

Sumande rightly suggested that, since the development of renewable energy would be expensive, the province would have to forge a private-public partnership. Perhaps, this calls for direct intervention by Energy Secretary Popo Lotilla, our kasimanwa from Sibalom, Antique.

Private investors, anyone?