Investigation Demanded for Panay Blackout Incident

Bacolod Mayor Alfredo Abelardo “Albee” Benitez. Photo from Mayor Alfredo Abelardo FB page
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Calls are intensifying for an investigation into the recent massive power outage that affected the provinces in Panay Island on Tuesday. The Regional Development Council (RDC) in Western Visayas has urged the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to launch an inquiry, according to Bacolod Mayor Alfredo Abelardo “Albee” Benitez.

The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) reported that all the power plants in Panay shut down at 2:27 p.m., shortly after the Negros-Panay grid went out. Mayor Benitez, who also serves as the chairman of the RDC, expressed skepticism about the simultaneous tripping of all six power plants on Panay Island, stating that it was hard to believe.

In response to the outage, representatives from the NGCP, Department of Energy (DoE), and the power generators held a virtual meeting on Wednesday to investigate the cause. Mayor Benitez pointed out that a similar power problem occurred last year, and recommendations were made to the NGCP, but it seems that they were not fully implemented.

Among the affected power plants were the Panay Energy Development Corp. and the Palm Concepcion Power Corp, according to the NGCP. The NGCP assured that load restoration would be done conservatively to prevent repeated voltage failure, and they are ready to transmit power once it becomes available.

The blackout has garnered support from several lawmakers who demand an inquiry into the incident. Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri expressed his frustration with the persistent power outages in Western Visayas, particularly in Iloilo. He emphasized the need for urgent action from the DoE and the NGCP to prevent further damage to the communities.

Sen. Rafael “Raffy” Tulfo, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy, is closely coordinating with various agencies to monitor the situation and provide immediate solutions. Sen. Francis “Chiz” Escudero believes that the investigation should not only focus on the NGCP but also include other stakeholders involved in electricity generation, transmission, and distribution. Sen. Mary Grace Poe expressed her concern for the affected residents of Panay and called for swift action to restore power.

The power outage has had significant economic implications, with Iloilo City potentially facing losses amounting to P1.5 billion, according to Mayor Jerry Treñas. The city’s Local Economic Development and Investment Promotions reported daily losses ranging from P300 million to P400 million. The Iloilo chapter of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry highlighted the downstream effects of rotational brownouts on the city’s economy, including disruptions to productivity, increased operational costs, and hindered technological advancements. They urged the government to invest in infrastructure upgrades, improve maintenance schedules, and explore alternative energy sources.

In conclusion, the power outage in Panay Island has sparked widespread concern and calls for an investigation. Lawmakers and local authorities are demanding transparency in identifying the root causes of the outages and implementing comprehensive plans to prevent similar incidents in the future. The economic losses and potential long-term impacts on the affected areas further underscore the urgency of finding solutions and improving the resilience of the power infrastructure.

Source: The Manila Times

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