NEA asked to explain status of Surneco’s P200-M genset purchase plan

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/09 June) – The Surigao del Norte provincial board unanimously approved a resolution Monday asking the National Electrification Administration (NEA) to shed light on the status of the proposal of the Surigao del Norte Electric Cooperative Inc. (Surneco) to purchase modular generation sets worth 200 million.

Provincial board member Melva P. Garcia, who sponsored the resolution, said most consumers were against the planned purchase of the five units of diesel-fired modular generation sets to ease power shortage in the province and the city.

Aside from NEA, representatives from the Energy Regulatory Commission and Department of Energy were asked to appear before the provincial board to answer queries.

“We are going to invite these three representatives from three offices to shed light on the proposed purchase,” Garcia said.

Early last month, some power consumers in Surigao City filed a petition for a temporary restraining order in a local court to stop Surneco from obtaining a loan for the generation sets.

But the court dismissed the petition, saying it has no jurisdiction to hear it.

Surneco legal counsel Henry Filoteo argued local courts have lost jurisdiction to hear the case after the passage of Republic Act 10531 or the “Act Strengthening the National Electrification Administration.”

Petitioners Edgar C. Canda, Jaime E. Jamil, Leonila C. Yu and Carlito E. Argente then filed a petition at the National Electrification Administration (NEA).

As of Monday there was no word yet from NEA on the petition.

The petitioners said the planned purchase of modular generation sets would drastically increase the cost of electricity. They claimed the equipment were overpriced and the plan did not pass prior consultations with the consumers.

Surneco serves Surigao City including some of its island barangays and 11 towns in Surigao del Norte.

The power distributor has been imposing daily rotating brownouts lasting five to six hours since February this year after Mindanao in general suffered reduced generation capacities. But outages have become less frequent for almost four weeks now.

Surneco general manager Narcisco I. Caliao, Jr. Surigao del Norte badly needed modular generation since Mindanao’s power generating plants especially the hydro power plants in Lanao and Bukidnon were no longer reliable.

Caliao added the coal-fired power plants being constructed in Mindanao would only start operating in 2016 or 2017. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)