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NEA urged to sue erring gencos caught up in Palawan blackouts

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The National Electrification Administration (NEA) must consider taking legal courses of action versus energy generation companies (gencos) that may be found guilty of shortchanging the Palawan Electric Cooperative (Paleco) in their power supply agreements.
Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy, issued this statement Monday during his meeting with officials from the NEA and the power suppliers of Paleco as regards the repeated brownouts plaguing Palawan.
The lawmaker is convinced the underperforming gencos are largely to blame for it on top of widespread allegations of mismanagement confronting Paleco. He thus advised the NEA to start flexing its muscles in addressing this problem.
“The status quo is not acceptable. So if there was indeed mismanagement, we have to move forward. If the gencos are not producing (the expected power supply) then we have to rescind the contract,” Gatchalian said.
The senator asked the NEA to extract relevant data from Paleco concerning the total power supply it received from the gencos over the last couple of months just to get a deeper understanding of all the issues at hand.
“We really need to know what the problem is because everyone says it was not their fault but the reality on the ground is that the (brownouts) continue… Look at recourses already, both for the management of Paleco and also for the gencos,” Gatchalian told the NEA.
Administrator Edgardo Masongsong said a technical team will be deployed to Palawan this week to further evaluate the situation. They are expected to meet with Paleco executives as well as other local government officials concerned.
“There is already a scheduled travel of our technical people to conduct system analysis on the transmission. But as regards distribution, while we recommended for ancillary power plant and operating reserve, I have instructed Engr. Nikki (Tortola) to also conduct analysis on the capacities available and how we will fast track the provision of (the same),” Masongsong said.
Tortola, the NEA Deputy Administrator for Technical Services who was also present in the meeting, said the problem in Palawan is a combination of generation, transmission and distribution issues. Paleco attributed it to dense vegetation and other unknown causes.
Gatchalian earlier directed the state-owned corporation regulating electric cooperatives nationwide to probe massive blackouts in Palawan following a slew of complaints from its customers that reached the Senate.
The NEA responded by issuing show cause orders against Paleco and the Oriental Mindoro Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Ormeco), which is also facing similar charges of gross neglect of duty to their member-consumers, last August 15. ###