Special body proposed to ensure steady power supply in GenSan

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/30 July) — The city council here is pushing for the creation of a special body that will initiate measures to address the city’s power supply problems and ensure the availability of “quality, reliable, secure and affordable” power resources for the area.

Vice Mayor Shirlyn Bañas-Nograles filed a proposed ordinance on Tuesday seeking the establishment of a local power resource planning and advisory board that will be composed of city officials and private stakeholders.

She said the move was an offshoot of the severe power shortage experienced by the city during the first half of the year that resulted in daily rotating brownouts lasting seven hours for nearly three months.

The power outages, she said, have “unreasonably constrained local industries to a near meltdown, while the costs of electricity went up.”

Under the ordinance, the vice mayor said the advisory board will be tasked to formulate the city’s local power resource management program.

It will be tasked to examine, whenever appropriate or necessary, the financial statements of any electric cooperative and private-owned distribution utility that are doing business within the city, she said.

“It will check, at the instance of any private or public complainant, on the propriety of any demand side management measure being implemented by any electric cooperative or private-owned distribution utility concerned within the city,” she said.

Nograles said the board will enjoin any electric cooperative or distribution utility concerned towards the proper management and placement of all power grid and distribution systems located within the city, including all necessary components, to ensure that these facilities are neatly kept intact at all times and that these do not pose any obstruction to traffic or threaten public order, health or safety.

It will ensure the efficient and effective implementation of the distribution code, the grid code as well as all other similar or related rules and regulations pertaining to the generation of electricity or distribution of electricity within the city, she said.

The official said it will represent the city government in all meetings, forums, assemblies, hearings or other similar or related conferences called by the Department of Energy, the Energy Regulatory Commission or any other national government agency in matters pertaining to the implementation of Republic Act (RA) 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001.

“The proposed body will assist the city mayor in coming up with counterpart programs which are appropriate, necessary or incidental in the efficient and effective implementation of the provisions of RA 9136 and other related concerns,” the vice mayor said.

Nograles said the proposed advisory board will be headed by the city mayor while the vice mayor will act as its vice chairperson.

Its membership will include city council members, city department heads and representatives of a duly recognized association or federation of electrical engineers in the city, the local chapter of the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the General Santos City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. and South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative (Socoteco II).

Acting on his campaign promise in the last May elections, city mayor Ronnel Rivera created earlier this month a technical working group that will look into the city’s power supply problem.

He said the move aims to resolve the area’s power deficit and ensure that long brownouts will not recur.

In late February, Socoteco II was forced to implement rotational brownouts of seven hours in two settings daily for each of its two feeder groupings after its power deficit rose to around 40 MW.

The supply cuts, which were implemented by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, were caused by the reduced capacity of the NPC’s hydroelectric plants in Bukidnon and the Lanao provinces.

The electric cooperative serves this city, the entire Sarangani Province and the municipalities of Tupi and Polomolok in South Cotabato.

Socoteco II noted that the area’s daily power demand currently peaks at around 115 to 119 MW due to the opening of new business establishments, among them a major mall expansion and a hotel.

It said that from last year’s peak demand of 112 MW, the area’s power requirements are projected to breach 120 MW by the end of the year due to the opening of two major processing plants here and in nearby Polomolok town. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)