MANILA – Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy, said the National Electrification Administration (NEA) must consider taking legal action against energy generation companies (gencos) found guilty of shortchanging the Palawan Electric Cooperative (Paleco) in their power supply agreements.
During his meeting with officials of the NEA and power suppliers of Paleco regarding the repeated brownouts plaguing Palawan, Gatchalian said the underperforming gencos are largely to blame for the problem, aside from widespread allegations of mismanagement confronting Paleco.
“The status quo is not acceptable. So if there was indeed mismanagement, we have to move forward. If the gencos are not producing (the expected power supply) then we have to rescind the contract,” he said.
The senator asked NEA to extract relevant data from Paleco concerning the total power supply it received from the gencos over the past couple of months, just to get a deeper understanding of all the issues at hand.
“We really need to know what the problem is because everyone says it was not their fault but the reality on the ground is that the brownouts continue. Look at recourses already, both for the management of Paleco and also for the gencos,” Gatchalian told NEA officials.
NEA Administrator Edgardo Masongsong said a technical team will be deployed to Palawan this week to further evaluate the situation. They are expected to meet with Paleco executives, as well as other local government officials concerned.
“There is already a scheduled travel of our technical people to conduct system analysis on the transmission. But as regards distribution, while we recommended for ancillary power plant and operating reserve, I have instructed Engr. Nikki Tortola also to conduct analysis on the capacities available and how we will fast-track the provision of the same,” Masongsong said.
Tortola, NEA Deputy Administrator for Technical Services who was also present during the meeting, said the problem in Palawan is a combination of generation, transmission and distribution issues. Paleco attributed it to dense vegetation and other unknown causes.
Gatchalian earlier directed the state-owned corporation regulating electric cooperatives nationwide to probe the massive power outage in Palawan after a slew of complaints from customers reached the Senate.
The NEA responded by issuing show cause orders against Paleco and the Oriental Mindoro Electric Cooperative Inc. (Ormeco), which is also facing similar charges of gross neglect of duty to their member-consumers, last August 15.