When dogs bark at the wrong tree
posted 31-May-2018  ·  
1,250 views  ·   0 comments  ·  

Last Tuesday morning, as the last page of the Tribune was being completed, several people were reportedly protesting in front of the headquarters of the First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative, Inc. (FICELCO) against the rotating brownouts.

Note that the current brownouts are a result of the breakdowns of three diesel gensets of the National Power Corporation (NPC) at its Marinawa diesel power plant and the shutdown of three gensets of the Sunwest Water & Electric Co. (SUWECO) at its Solong diesel power plant due to a leaking transformer.

This subsequently took 3.7 megawatts out of the Catanduanes grid, which now consumes 13 megawatts at peak load during nighttime. To the credit of SUWECO, it was able to replace the transformer by Sunday afternoon, reducing the deficit to 2.6 megawatts.

While the NPC is doing its best to repair its defective gensets in the soonest time possible, there is nothing FICELCO, as an entity just receiving power from its suppliers, can do except to ration out power.

Since last year, when it petitioned the Napocor board to extend the lease of the 3.6-megawatt Daihatsu bunker-fuel genset being operated by Catanduanes Power Generation, Inc. (CPGI), the cooperative board has been trying its best to ensure there would be enough power supply this summer when the production of the three mini-hydroelectric power plants it at its lowest.

Unfortunately, the NPC headed by Batonhon and certified “alisto” Pio Joson Benavidez as its president and chief executive officer has denied FICELCO’s request despite the fact that CPGI still has four years remaining in its ESA with the cooperative. The denial was also made despite the fact that the 3.6-MW power plant was being utilized as a base load and operated for 24 hours for stretches, broken only by occasional breakdowns and scheduled maintenance.

It should be realized that without such a base load plant using low-speed genset fed with cheaper fuel, the grid would be susceptible to frequent outages since the high-speed diesel gensets of NPC and SUWECO cannot be operated beyond 16 hours daily.

Just a year ago, a Napocor official reportedly recommended the continued operation of the CPGI plant for this very reason, but his advice apparently was not received warmly.

Now that the people of Catanduanes, particularly the 50,000 member-consumers of FICELCO who curse the wrong entity when the lights go out, are suffering the consequences of myopic decision-making and the understandable need for more profit, where are those who commended the Napocor board for not renewing the CPGI genset lease agreement? Where are those who sought the termination of the CPGI agreement with FICELCO?

They only curse when each brownout begins but they do not suffer like the ordinary consumer, who don’t have the money to buy generators and thus rest in comfort in airconditioned rooms, even when it is pitch-dark for most of their constituents.

Perhaps, they could issue another commendation, this time to Tuesday’s protesters at FICELCO, for doing what they could not literally do in public: bark at the wrong tree.

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