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Opinion: PECO vs MORE Power Struggle

Andy William’s ‘where do I begin’ seems to be the proper starter song in this article. It was a ‘shocker’ when the entire Panay island was engulfed in darkness prior to November 1st, at the very bisperas of the highly anticipated all saints and all souls day. Apparently, two blackouts occurred in two succeeding days.

According to the Global Business Power Corporation, the first blackout occurred due to a trip off of Panay Energy Development Corporation units 1, 2, and 3. Moreover, in a statement by Panay Electric Company, there was an issue in the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines that urged the Panay Energy Development Corporation to shut off its coal plant. With this, areas in Antique, Aklan, Capiz, and Negros Occidental were affected in the wide scale outage. Issues were resolved and electricity returned prior midnight.

The next day, however, another blackout occurred at around 8am. According to the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, a 138kV submarine cable connecting Negros and Panay has tripped off. This affected the following: PECO, ILECO I, ILECO II, ILECO III, GUIMELCO, ANTECO, CAPELCO, and AKELCO. During this time, there was limited supply of electricity to restore the entirety of Iloilo, thus some feeders were online and some offline. Overall, power resumed around 6pm or 7pm in the evening.

An almost 12 hour ordeal.

On the other hand, in an article by The Daily Guardian, it was stated that the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines was able to restore the submarine cable in 30 minutes time, allowing power suppliers and distributors to commence restoring electricity. Why did it take long to restore power?

Still, an almost 12 hour ordeal for Iloilo City.

This draw further attention from residents regarding the competency of Panay Electric Company. In the same article, it was highlighted that the power distributor has a 65-megawatt contract with Panay Energy Development Corporation as well as another 15-megawatt contract from Panay Power Corporation, a diesel fired power plant and a Global Business Power Corporation subsidiary.

Of course, More Electric and Power Corporation has to have a say regarding the recent power mishap. According to More Electric and Power Corporation, a scheduled or rotated brownout among feeders should have been done to equally distribute electricity among affected areas. ‘That’s a standard practice among distribution utilities’, states More Electric and Power Corporation.

‘Justice to the consumers’ was the cry of residents. Moreover, the competitor company highlighted that consumers who have endured the 12 hour ordeal will pay the same rates imposed on consumers that had electricity during the power outage.

PECO’s response was that they were ready to distribute power as long as there was supply coming from the likes of the Global Business Power Corporation. The company’s communication manager Mikel Afzelius stated that Panay Electric Company is merely an electric distribution company and not a power generator and a transmission operator. ‘Tagasalo lang kita sang kuryente’, Afzelius notes in the same article.

Prior the bisperas power mishap, Panay Electric Company announced that it will spend Php 1.1 billion on innovations, in a bid to improve services and lessen power cost. Innovations include smart metering and net metering. Smart metering will provide consumers prepaid metering, real time reading, and automatic disconnection/re-connection. Another innovation that company aspires to invest on is the ‘smart grid project’, an electric system that detects and resolves problems through a ‘self healing’ process. The smart grid will inevitably improve reliability of the service. Other innovations include circuit reclosers, smart sectionalizers, and fault indicators in the smart grid. Read more: Panay Electric to spend Php 1.1B on innovations in next 10 years 

With the inspiring innovations Panay Electric Company has in mind, it cannot be denied that it had 95 years to have imposed those innovations. Why innovate just now?

Just recently, More Power and Electric Company, the rival of Panay Electric Company, announced that it will allot Php 1.7 billion for Iloilo’s power system, countering the capital outlay of Panay Electric Company. To even heat up the rivalry between the two companies, More Power and Electric Company President Roel Castro stated that the Php 1.1 billion capital is ‘more or less’ the amount it owed to consumers. Castro further stated that the investment announcement is merely a publicity stunt. Read more: MORE allots Php 1.7 billion for Iloilo power system 

Just this year, More Power and Electric Company was granted franchise to operate an electricity distribution system in Iloilo City via Republic Act 11212. In addition, the company sought to expropriate Panay Electric Company distribution network, authorized the former to take over the facility.

What’s next for the two companies? Possibly more issues. Just recently, the Iloilo City Government addressed a letter to the Office of the President raising concerns of the ‘inadequately maintained distribution lines’ of Panay Electric Company. Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treňas enumerated nine fire incidents involving pole fires from October 19 to 21, based on a report by the Bureau of Fire.

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