North Cotabato brownouts blamed on TMI’s ‘high’ power rate

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/25 April) – The Cotabato Electric Cooperative (Cotelco) has blamed the daily eight-hour brownouts in the province on the “high” rate being charged by the Aboitiz-owned Therma Marine Inc. for the use of its power barge in Maco, Compostela Valley.

“The TMI is charging Cotelco too high. Aside from that, they demand that we pay them in advance for the power we have not yet consumed,” Cotelco spokesperson Vincent Baguio said in an interview over Catholic-ran dxND.

Baguio said TMI wanted to charge Cotelco P16.11 per kilowatt, or P4 more than the increase approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

He added the TMI is demanding a P4-million security bond and an advance payment of P14 million.

“This is hurting the electric cooperative so much. We are the most affected here,” he said.

Cotelco said it wants to draw at least eight megawatts from TMI’s power barge, in addition to its 15.4 megawatts of daily load dispatch from the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).

Baguio said they have asked the ERC to intervene saying the brownouts would continue until May if they could not procure additional power supply.

He said Cotelco has three options: buy expensive power from TMI and pass on the cost to its consumers; press the national government into dispatching the needed 26 megawatts from the two geothermal power plants in Mount Apo; wait until the Pulangi IV plant resumes operations next month.

Cotelco’s pronouncement that the brownouts may last till May has dismayed some residents in the city,

“We were assured we would get over this crisis, but it seems forever,” said Bernard Capilitan, a trader.

Augusto Sanoy, a tricycle driver from Barangay Singao, said he has spent much on buying candles and kerosene.

Brownouts here are scheduled from 5 to 8 pm and from 7 am to 12 noon.

Local officials and residents have set Friday, April 27, as a “Day of Mourning and Protest” over the power crisis in Mindanao. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)