Business growth should spur new power plans
posted 30-Sep-2018  ·  
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Last week’s good news courtesy of the National Power Corporation is a welcome development for the besieged management of the First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative, Inc. (FICELCO).

It is not certain whether the keynote speaker of the recent 41st Annual General Membership Assembly is to be credited for the decision of the Napocor leadership to base a 7.2-megawatt power barge at Codon port, near the NPC substation and its Bato-Virac-Codon transmission line.

But Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, the chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy, surely has enough power to convince Napocor president Pio Benavidez to provide additional power to the island grid in view of the failure of the two power suppliers to fulfill their existing contracts with FICELCO.

During the Sept. 1, 2018 assembly, the 44-year old senator promised not to stop until the power problem in Catanduanes is solved, telling the consumer-members that he has already asked the presidents of National Electrification Administration and Napocor to assist in the effort.

“I will make a move to find solutions, ensure a stronger electric cooperative, and lessen brownouts,” the first-termer senator vowed, as he called on member-consumers to participate by monitoring decisions made by the BOD and expressing their concerns.

Napocor’s plan for the Codon power barge in preparation for the coming summer months of 2019, especially in the light of the fact that crucial elections will be held in May, should now push FICELCO management headed by General Manager Raul Zafe to conduct a Distribution Impact Study (DIS).

The study would indicate how the power barge, as well as the cooperative’s plan to conduct a Competitive Selection Process (CSP) for a new power provider, would affect the Catanduanes grid.

The cooperative, particularly the management and the board of directors now headed by Director Rodulfo “Boy Vargas, should not be distracted from the task of improving power services, including the potentially troubling task of untangling the mess that previous boards have gotten the cooperative into in the past.

With the hiring of former Deputy Provincial Prosecutor Rizalina Velasco-Tañon as legal counsel, the cooperative management and board should feel confident enough to push through its plans and programs for the benefit of its 54,000 member-consumer-owners.

     The reported plan of DoubleDragon Properties to establish a Citymall in the capital town of Virac as well as the increasing interest of big retail conglomerates in the growing market of Catanduanes is more than enough incentive for the cooperative to push through with the CSP.

     It should be remembered by the board that it should work for the member-consumers who elected them and not their backers during the district elections, as both Congressman Cesar Sarmiento and Governor Joseph Cua have so bluntly put it, albeit in different ways.

    The heavy rains brought by the passage of typhoon Ompong just to the northeast of the island has given the cooperative and its power suppliers some breathing room from public excoriation regarding unreliable power service. It should use the same respite, not only to pray for more heavy rain, but to work together in having existing power assets address the yearning of the consumers.

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