NPC’s about-face on the power barge
posted 24-Mar-2019  ·  
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In the past few days, members-consumers-owners of the First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative, Inc. (FICELCO) have been given a taste of what would likely happen this summer. Monday was marred by at least three power outages, although they did not last long.

The Projected Power Supply-Demand Outlook for CY 2019 prepared by the cooperative shows that while there would be no deficit in the power supply this summer if all gensets are operational and the three mini-hydroelectric power plants are operated for four hours daily during peak hours of the summer months, the grid would suffer rotational brownouts once the 3.6-MW Daihatsu genset is taken out for preventive or corrective maintenance, with the outages worsening from April to October.

That FICELCO officials, with the approval of the NEA project supervisor, rushed to the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, asking it to request Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian to direct the National Power Corporation to reconsider its deferment of the power barge installation, is telling.

It is apparent that FICELCO management does not share NPC president and CEO Pio Benavidez’s optimistic view that there would be a reserve capacity of 1.58 megawatts this summer.

The Batonhon NPC official is banking on information reaching him that Sunwest Water & Electric Co. (SUWECO) has “fast paced the deployment and installation of 6 megawatt mobile diesel gensets as part of SUWECO’s obligation to the 2nd Amendment of Energy Supply Agreement with FICELCO and the target date of completion will be on April 2019.”

Already saddled with one of the highest power rates in the archipelado, the 50,000 consumers are most likely in the minds of FICELCO officials when they refused to allow the operation of the two diesel gensets installed by SUWECO at the old power plant at Marinawa. Its operation at this time, when the 2nd Amendment of its Energy Supply Agreement has yet to be approved, would add several hundred pesos more to the monthly burden of households on the island.

Benavidez’s letter to Sen. Gatchalian did not indicate where he got the information regarding the “fast-paced” deployment of the SUWECO gensets. It likewise did not show where he got the Power Outlook and Load Curve attached to the letter, as FICELCO’s Projected Power Supply-Demand Outlook for 2019 did not at all consider the operation of the 6.6-MW SUWECO diesel gensets.

Why the NPC official, who as a native-born Catandunganon, did not bother to consult with FICELCO management or with local officials when he decided to defer the power barge deployment, is a question only he can answer.

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