‘Power firms must provide reliable electricity’


SEN. Grace Poe reminded power firms Wednesday they were granted with franchises and permits by the government to carry out the vital task of providing reliable electricity at all times.

At a hearing on long, frequent power outages in certain key regions of the country, notably in Panay and in Occidental Mindoro, Poe, who chairs the Senate Committee on Public Services, stressed that, “reliability is a big commitment in the provision of public service.”

“Kailangan ay maaasahan ka ng mga tao sa lahat ng oras [People should be able to depend on you at all times], whatever the circumstances are,” said Poe said at Wednesday’s hearing of the Senate Energy committee that convened to tackle, among others, her Resolution on the Panay Island power situation.

“Thus, it should be the responsibility of our public service providers to ensure that proper measures are in place and upgrades are implemented to continuously improve the reliability of the system,” the senator stressed.

She reminded everyone that Republic Act No. 9511 granted the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) a franchise “with the commitment to support safe and reliable operation of the transmission system in the Philippines.”

“The weight of its responsibility is heaviest being the sole operator,” the senator stressed.

A franchise is a privilege especially if it involves a natural monopoly given to a sole company, she stressed, noting, in mixed English and Filipino that: “This goes with the big responsibility to serve the public, and the moment it fails to do this, this can be taken back.”

She then wondered aloud why, for several years now, the supposed audit on NGCP’s performance, started in 2019 by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), has not been finished.

She said authorities should have acted quickly to remedy the situation to spare the people in Occidental Mindoro of the blackouts, lamenting that “it turns out there was a solution to provide power; all that was needed was a provisional  authority.  The Department of Energy should he predicted the shortfall early on, and solutions could have been done.”

If “permits were the only problem,” she added, “a way should have been found to solve the problem.”

At the same time, Poe cited the “need to determine the cause of the grid disturbances in Panay Island and who should be held responsible—NGCP or local distribution utility Central Negros Electric Cooperative [Ceneco].”