Lawmakers seek probe of Jan. 2 blackouts in Western Visayas

Lawmakers seek probe of Jan. 2 blackouts in Western Visayas

TWO SENATORS on Monday filed separate resolutions seeking to investigate the blackouts in Western Visayas in central Philippines on Jan. 2 that supposedly led to at least P1.5 billion in economic losses.

“Considering that past investigations and probes have not yielded palpable results, an even more comprehensive, thorough and extensive examination needs to be conducted,” Senator Ana Theresia N. Hontiveros-Baraquel said in Senate Resolution 890.

She also cited the need to review the concession agreement between the National Transmission Corp. and the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP).

NGCP spokesperson Cynthia P. Alabanza did not immediately reply to a Viber message seeking comment.

Senator Francis N. Tolentino filed a similar resolution, saying the power failures had caused about P1.5 billion in economic losses for Iloilo City alone.

“Through the adoption of new solutions including infrastructure upgrades, improved maintenance schedules and the exploration of alternative energy resources, these power disruptions will be the bane to the continuous and uninterrupted growth and prosperity of the region,” he said in Senate Resolution 894.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. on Saturday said NGCP should take responsibility for the power failures.

Ilocos Norte Rep. and presidential son Ferdinand Alexander A. Marcos also filed a resolution seeking a separate House of Representatives probe.

“The review should include the possible separation and transfer of the systems operation function from the NGCP to another entity which could carry out such function more efficiently,” he said in House Resolution 1534.

“Streamlining will enable the NGCP to focus on the construction and operation of the transmission grid,” he said in a statement.

Congressmen should also consider authorizing the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to fine NGCP P2 million a day for failing to comply with regulatory rules, Mr. Marcos said. The fine could also be equivalent to 1% of the cost of a delayed project, he added.

Mr. Marcos said Congress should consider imposing a special tax on NGCP as a power concessionaire.

On Jan. 2, a yellow alert was raised for the Visayas grid after several power plants tripped, including the units of Panay Energy Development Corp. and Palm Concepcion Power Corp., according to an NGCP report. The yellow alert was lifted at 9:01 p.m. on Tuesday.

In a Jan. 5 statement, the NGCP said it has “fully restored all affected feeders on Panay Island and normalized transmission operations in the area.” — John Victor D. Ordoñez and Beatriz Marie D. Cruz