KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/28 April) – -Vice Mayor Joseph Evangelista late Friday sued Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras and other officials for allegedly disregarding the city’s demand for power from the geothermal power plants it is hosting.
Charged aside from Almendras were Froilan Tampinco, president of the National Power Corporation (NPC) and its Board of Directors; Emmanuel Ledesma Jr., president of the Power Sector Assets Liabilities and Management (PSALM) and its Board of Directors; and Richard Tantoco, president and Chief Executive Officer of the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) and its Board of Directors.
Evangelista, presiding chair of the Sangguniang Panglungsod ng Kidapawan, trooped to the office of the Clerk of Court with his two lawyers at around 4:30 p.m. Friday to file a petition for “Mandamus with Prayer for the Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction and Damages.
Evangelista said that by filing the case, the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 23 here would compel Secretary Almendras and other respondents to effect the prioritization of a 25-percent load dispatch from the 104-megawatt geothermal power plants located at Mount Apo for Kidapawan City, as host of the power sources.
“We’re only claiming what is rightfully ours. So we want the court to compel the DoE, Napocor, PSALM, DoE, and the EDC to implement the law, a provision in the Department of Energy Act of 1992 and Republic Act 9136 states that, as the host of the geothermal power plants, we must be supplied 25 percent of their capacity,” he said.
The filing of the case came hours after a rally pushing for the release of the 25% power allocation, supposedly scheduled that morning, was called off upon the request of Local Governments Secretary Jesse Robredo.
Evangelista stressed the filing of the case was done “after exhausting all available ‘administrative’ remedies.
“But we were so frustrated when these government entities seemed to ignore our pleas. We met them on several occasions in the past but to no avail,” he said.
Since April 19, the province has been experiencing a daily eight-hour rotating brownouts, five hours at daytime and three hours at night.
Cromwell Rabaya, one of Evangelista’s lawyers, said the case they filed on Friday clearly stated that the city does not want just a direct line from the geothermal power plants but a load dispatch from these facilities.
“The direct power line from the Mount Apo to Cotelco (Cotabato Electric Cooperative) has long been constructed, yet there is no load for Kidapawan City and in other parts of North Cotabato. We want them to give us 26 megawatts from the geothermal power plants, and dispatch to the Mindanao grid whatever is the difference,” Rabaya said.
Twenty-five per cent of the 104MW is 26 MW.
The power plants were constructed in early 1990s at the 701-hectare reserved lot for Mindanao geothermal production located at Barangay Ilomavis in Kidapawan City.
Section 5 (i) of Republic Act 7638 or the Department of Energy Act of 1992 mandates the DoE to “devise ways and means of giving direct benefit to the province, city, or municipality, especially the community and people affected, and equitable preferential benefit to the region that hosts the energy resource and/or the energy-generating facility.”
TheDoE said in its Implementing Rules and Regulations that, “in times of energy shortage, the energy-generating facility shall prioritize up to 25 percent of its contracted or available capacity, whichever is lower, which shall be delivered to the appropriate electric utility for distribution to the official resettlement/relocation sites of the community and people affected, and thereafter, to the relevant host LGU or host region….”
The remaining 75 percent shall then “be dispatched to the grid so as not to unreasonably deprive other municipalities, cities, provinces, or regions of their energy requirements,” Section 6(b) of the DOE’s Energy Regulations No.1-94 added.
The filing of the case pushed through even as the scheduled “Day of Mourning and Protest against Power Crisis,” organized by some city officials and government employees and scheduled for Friday, was called off after a call from Local Governments Secretary Robredo.
Mayor Rodolfo Gantuangco said Robredo wanted to meet the convenors of Nagkakaisang Pinoy Kontra sa Brownout (Napikon sa Brownount) as the President reportedly does not want a rally.
Gantuangco said organizers have vowed to push through with the rally if the city is not given the 25% power allocation from the geothermal plants. (Malu Manar/MindaNews)