By Victor V. Saulon

Comelec asked to secure transmission facilities needing repair

Posted on February 17, 2016

THE Department of Energy has asked the Commission of Elections (Comelec) to issue a resolution that will deputize government agencies, including the police and the military, to secure areas where electricity transmission facilities need immediate repair.

In a briefing yesterday, Energy Secretary Zenaida Y. Monsada said she sent the “endorsement” to the Comelec last week, which she said should address the still unresolved right-of-way issue in Mindanao that was preventing the repair of a bombed transmission tower.

She said the Comelec came up with the proposal of deputizing energy stakeholders during an inter-agency meeting on Jan. 25.

In the letter, she said the department was endorsing a proposal to deputize, among others, the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to provide “assistance and coordination” to the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) in its clearing operations of the nationwide electricity transmission lines, substations and related power facilities.

Ms. Monsada said the Comelec has the “emergency power” to order urgent measures during the election period. She also cited other government agencies that the poll body could deputize, including the departments of Interior and Local Government, Public Works and Highways, and Environment and Natural Resources.

She said it would be up to the Comelec as to how it would issue the final wording of the resolution.

The move is the latest action by the Energy department to address the power supply issue in Mindanao.

The department had earlier proposed the creation of a “task force” to hasten the resolution of the right-of-way problem that has been preventing the NGCP from entering an area where a vital transmission tower was bombed and toppled.

Claimants of the property were demanding payment before allowing the grid operator to repair the tower, which was bombed on Dec. 24, 2015.

The situation has impeded two units of the Agus Hydroelectric Plant from supplying about 80 megawatts of cheaper power to Mindanao consumers and providing reliable power supply.

The task force was separate from a similar panel that was created to ensure electricity supply during the election period.

Ms. Monsada said the damaged transmission tower will result in unutilized electric power generated from the two Agus units, depriving people in affected areas of their entitlement to undertake potential projects.

Host communities of power generating facilities are granted a share of 1 centavo per kilowatt-hour of electricity sales to be used for projects that will uplift the living conditions of the residents.