By By Fernan A. Gianan
Back to square one for FICELCO
posted 24-Jul-2019  ·  
1,401 views  ·   0 comments  ·  

The objective of last week’s consultative meeting called by SP Energy Committee chair PBM Edwin Tanael to elicit solutions to the power crisis was undoubtedly laudable.

Unfortunately, the gathering of stakeholders for the “Power Services Update” started on the wrong foot, but on no fault of PBM Tanael.

None of the three Catanduanes grid parties present – FICELCO, SUWECO and NPC – dared to be the first to explain why the meeting was held in the first place.

The cooperative’s first speaker, reading from prepared notes, tackled FICELCO’s history and its “AA” rating given by the National Electrification Administration (NEA). SUWECO claimed it had sufficient reserve power but did not explain why there were daily brownouts since Saturday last week. The Napocor official merely said it would give a clarification on the power supply.

The tiptoeing around the real issue of who caused the recent outages prompted several stakeholders to wonder why they were asked to submit position papers on the crisis when the meeting had yet to discuss the cause.

Only two participants – IHMH’s Edna Segismundo and the Viga Sangguniang Bayan – submitted position papers while consumer group official Ed Rodulfo was told to submit all that he knew of the SUWECO-FICELCO power supply agreement to the committee.


But there were plenty of blame to spread around.

Of Napocor’s 12 diesel gensets, four were either non-operational due to technical issues or deactivated.

Of SUWECO’s 13 diesel gensets, four were out of commission due to the burnt transformer, something which the supplier’s representative blamed on the system-wide tripping caused by FICELCO’s load dispatcher.

Of course, the three hydro power plants were at the time reduced to half their capacity for lack of water, with SUWECO’s Hitoma-1 plant unable to operate due to a damaged penstock.


Undersized wires can be replaced if FICELCO has money to spend. Napocor can replace its old and dilapidated gensets if it decides to place Catanduanes back into its Missionary Development Plan. And SUWECO is doing all it can to replace the damaged transformer and penstock, transfer two Viga gensets to Hitoma to solve undervoltage in the northern towns, and provide additional gensets if asked to.

Cong. Hector Sanchez even has the chance to fulfill his campaign promise of linking the grid to the mainland transmission line through submarine cable, as the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) told him the Catanduanes project is already in their future plans.

FICELCO can proceed with its latest effort to procure additional power to prepare for Napocor’s expected exit from the island grid in 2020.


But eventually, FICELCO management and even the congressman will have to deal with an ever bigger roadblock: the SUWECO Electricity Supply Agreement (ESA) and its two amendments.

    As consumer rights advocate Ed Rodulfo says, SUWECO’s contracted energy is already more than double FICELCO’s power requirement.

    And under the amendments, the cooperative is obligated to inform SUWECO of any need for additional power, and SUWECO is obligated to supply the same.

     No wonder the company is unperturbed by the Sanchez proposal or FICELCO’s  new power bidding.


THE DRUNK HUSBAND. A wife was in bed with her lover when she heard her husband's key in the door. "Stay where you are," she said. "He's so drunk he won't even notice you're in bed with me." Sure enough, the husband lurched into bed none the wiser, but a few minutes later, through a drunken haze, he saw six feet sticking out at the end of the bed. He turned to his wife: "Hey, there are six feet in this bed. There should only be four. What's going on?" "Nonsense," said the wife. "You're so drunk you miscounted. Get out of bed and try again. You can see better from over there." The husband climbed out of bed and counted. "One, two, three, four. You're right, you know."

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