Palawan power utility submits revised distribution plan

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THE Department of Energy (DoE) has ordered Palawan Electric Cooperative (Paleco) to submit an updated power distribution development plan (DDP) to determine whether the government should continue looking after the provision of electricity in the area.

“We required them to submit a revised DDP,” Mario C. Marasigan, director of the DoE’s Electric Power Industry Management Bureau, told reporters last week.

“Depending on the DDP, then we may have to decide whether to continue the arrangement with the NPC (National Power Corp.) to provide services for the El Nido area in terms of the generation and wires,” he added.

DoE Undersecretary William Felix B. Fuentebella confirmed that Paleco has submitted a revised DDP, which was forwarded to Mr. Marasigan’s bureau. Mr. Marasigan said that for the rest of Palawan, the DoE is looking at enhancing the power transmission substations. He said his bureau will also review the power supply agreements.

“We have already initiated discussions with them to include in their DDP the power supply procurement program and the review,” he said.

DoE’s intervention in Palawan comes after President Rodrigo R. Duterte issued a warning to local officials to solve the energy issues in the province. He gave Paleco until the end of the year to address the frequent brownouts or he will seek a new electricity provider for Palawan.

Last month, state-run National Electrification Administration (NEA) said it intervened in the management and operation of Paleco in its bid to help resolve the power supply issues in the province.

NEA Administrator Edgardo R. Masongsong issued an office order on Dec. 10 designating engineer Nelson Lalas as project supervisor and acting general manager of Paleco “effective immediately,” the agency said in a statement.

Mr. Lalas’ designation will cease upon the appointment of a regular general manager, which is subject to NEA confirmation.

Mr. Marasigan said the problem in Palawan is related to transmission.

“The common causes of the problem in Palawan apparently are the lines and substations. It’s not insufficient power supply. In fact, it has oversupply in terms of PSAs,” he said.

He also said that some areas in Palawan were also not connected to the electric cooperative such as El Nido, Taytay and San Vicente, which are among the province’s key tourist destinations.

“But the interconnection should be completed by 2019 as programmed by NPC-SPUG (small power utilities group),” he said.

For this year, DoE expects power demand in Palawan to fall in line with expectations that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the Department of Tourism are looking “some of sort of restrictions as far as the entry to El Nido,” Mr. Marasigan said.

“There won’t be any closures but the DENR has been finding some issues. For example there is a lot of encroachment on beach areas so that means we will see a reduction in such facilities. So that’s reduction in consumption,” he said. — Victor V. Saulon