PECO smells sabotage in blackouts

By: Francis Allan L. Angelo

Panay Electric Company (PECO) claimed that the two-day power outage that hit Iloilo City on October 29 and 30 was highly irregular, citing power industry insiders.

The widespread power outage also occurred when power distributorship in Iloilo is being contested in the courts by PECO and newcomer MORE Electric and Power Corporation (MEPC).

Last October 29, two power plants in Iloilo City and province shut down —the coal-fired plants operated by Global Business Power subsidiary Panay Energy Development Corp (PEDC) and another plant ran by Palm Concepcion Power Corporation (PCPC) in Concepcion, Iloilo.

Citing energy sector insiders, PECO said the PCPC plant resumed operations on Nov 2—five days after the shutdown, which, they claimed, is highly irregular unless the plant had a major breakdown.

“Coal plants usually can synchronize back to the grid in a couple of hours but PCPC came back online after 5 days which is quite long,” Archimedes Flores, CEO of DA Green Power Consultancy, said.

According to PECO, this abnormal delay in the restoration of power was the reason why the second blackout on Oct 30 lasted for 12 hours.

In a report, PECO Head of Public Engagement and Government Affairs Marcelo Cacho said that they had to implement rotating brownouts just to be able to distribute power to residential homes.

“Contrary to what MORE claimed, we had to do rotating brownouts while prioritizing the residential areas that do not have generator sets that can provide backup power,” Cacho noted.

PECO also noted that Roel Castro, president and CEO of MORE Power, was a former president of PCPC. Moreover, the incorporation papers of PCPC filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) showed that Castro’s group owns a minority stake in PCPC.

This fuelled speculations that the highly irregular two-day power outage was a form of sabotage to discredit PECO, the current power provider in Iloilo.

Energy sector sources who refused to be named said MORE Power seems willing to sacrifice the good people of Panay to put PECO in a bad light.

In a previous news report, Cacho also aired the same sentiment.

“I’m indignant for the people of Iloilo. The coal plant shutdown and the almost-simultaneous pole fires in different areas of Iloilo make me wonder if there’s something happening behind the scenes,” Cacho stressed.

“Or is this sabotage by those who want to ease us out of Iloilo to force our hand to give up?” he added.