NEA probes Paleco, other ECs for reliability compliance

The Technical Services Sector of the National Electrification Administration (NEA) has been directed by Administrator Edgardo Masongsong to conduct an investigation into the reliability performance of all the electric cooperatives (ECs) under its charge, including the Palawan Electric Cooperative (Paleco).

According to NEA Deputy Administrator Engr. Artis Nikki Tortola, the main objective of the investigation, to be led by the NEA Technical Services and the Engineering Department, is to determine if all the ECs meet the reliability standards set by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

There are 121 ECs in the country that are currently under the supervision of the NEA.

"We are evaluating the 2016 reliability of the electric cooperatives, including the first semester from January 2017 to June 2017. We are looking into the reliability compliance of the electric cooperatives based on the standards set by the ERC," explained Tortola.

Given special attention in the probe are Paleco, Occidental Mindoro Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Omeco), Oriental Mindoro Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Ormeco) and Aklan Electric Cooperative, Inc. Boracay area (Akelco), all of which has complaints concerning reliability, especially with regard to the duration and frequency of power interruptions.

"There is no exemption; if they fail, we will determine the reasons behind this and take appropriate actions," Tortola said.

Tortola met with Paleco General Manager Ric Zambales and Technical Services Engr. Ricardo Adajao earlier this week to discuss the cause of the recurrent power interruptions being experienced by the residents of Palawan since January 2017.

During the discussion, Paleco claimed that majority of the outages were caused by transmission line faults and transmission maintenance.

"One notable reason is the issue on vegetation, not just involving the distribution system of Paleco, but most especially on the transmission lines," the NEA Deputy Administrator for Technical Services revealed.

"This transmission line is more or less a 300-kilometer line stretching from the northern portion of Puerto Princesa going down to the southern portion of Puerto Princesa. This line connects the generating plants serving Paleco. Now, this line is heavily vegitated as claimed by Paleco. In the event of fault along this line, the interruption would affect almost all of the consumers of the cooperative," he added.

According to Paleco, this transmission line is maintained by the National Power Corporation.

The Senate Committee on Energy, chaired by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, has given the NEA until Friday, August 11, 2017, to probe the prolonged power outages in Puerto Princesa.

Meanwhile, Deputy Administrator Tortola assured the public that NEA is exerting all efforts to ensure that all electric cooperatives are satisfactorily meeting their obligations to their member-consumers.

"NEA looks at not only at the management side of the electric cooperatives, but also their performance. In fact, we frequently ask electric cooperatives to explain the reasons of interruption that affects majority, if not all of the consumers in the cooperative," he said.

NEA management teams have also been deployed to similarly situated ECs like Masbate Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Maselco), Camarines Sur III Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Casureco 3), Davao del Norte Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Daneco) and Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Lasureco).

In these ailing ECs, Task Force Duterte was formed composed of NEA Technical and Management experts to reverse their plight. The agency is also looking into the situation of Abra Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Abreco) and other struggling power coops within the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

As directed by Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi during the NEA anniversary celebrations last week, the agency is poised to takeover other ailing electric cooperatives and suspend erring general managers who are found to be remiss of their mandates.