NorthCot businesses suffer due to blackouts

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KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 18 April) – A big number of business establishments, especially the smaller ones, here and in the whole of North Cotabato province have already closed shop because of the long power outages, further exacerbated with the announcement of the local electric cooperative that the blackouts will last form six to eight hours starting today.

Dan Sambrano, of the Metro Kidapawan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Foundation, Inc. (MKCCFI), said that since last month, around 50 percent of small businesses in the province have already closed shops due to unstable power supply.

Many of these establishments, he said, are internet shops and beauty salons.

This morning, some establishments did not bother to open their businesses with the announcement of a six- to eight-hour power outages.

“What income would we get with these long hours of brownouts? For how long are we going to suffer?” asked Armalyn Bravo, one of the beauticians at a local salon here.

Armalyn’s salon, located along Quezon Boulevard here was supposed to open at 8 a.m. But with the announcement, she just had to close her store.

Vicente Baguio, spokesman for the Cotabato Electric Cooperative (COTELCO), said the power was shut off around 8:22 a.m. today and was restored only around 12:45 p.m., or after more than four hours. Blackout was to resume later in the afternoon, for three to four hours more starting at 3 p.m.

The rotating blackouts in North Cotabato started October last year. But it got worse starting last February, according to Baguio, when the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) deducted at least 30 percent from the regular load dispatched for COTELCO.

Starting today, Baguio said COTELCO was given only 42.8 percent of the total power requirement of North Cotabato, or only 15.4 megawatts of the usual 36MW.

“This is the reason why starting Wednesday our service areas would be experiencing six to eight hours of rotating brownouts daily,” he explained.

The cooperative, however, is working out that it be given a provisional authority by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) so it could buy power, at least 8MW, from a power barge in Davao City.

Meantime, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan in North Cotabato is also bent on filing a case against the National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR) and the Power Sectors Assets, Liabilities, and Management (PSALM) for their refusal to grant the COTELCO 26MW from the two geothermal power plants located at Mount Apo within Kidapawan.

The provincial council also believes that as host of these plants, North Cotabato is entitled to a 25-percent load dispatch daily from the geothermal plants.

“Despite the existing laws, we are at the mercy of the power transmission and generation facilities as to whether or not they would give us the needed power for the province. We’re doing now a very careful study of the cases that would be filed against these agencies.  We don’t want to go wrong this time,” said Cotabato 2nd district board member Jose Ping Tejada, chair of the SP’s committee on power.

Earlier, the SP warned it would go to court if NAPOCOR and PSALM still refuse to dispatch 26MW from the 104MW geothermal plants at the Mount Apo. (Malu Cadeliña Manar / MindaNews)


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