Sunday, December 11, 2005


Atty. Romeo Gerochi (2nd from right) grills Engr. Bien Anatan of Peco while Atty. Hans Sayno (extreme left) and ERC Hearing officer Francis Juan listen.


By Francis Allan L. Angelo and Jeehan V. Fernandez

THE Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) will try to come up with a “win-win” solution which will avert the looming power blackout in Iloilo City once Panay Power Corporation (PPC) shuts down.
Atty. Francis Juan, who presided over the first hearing on Panay Electric Company’s (Peco) petition to revalidate its power supply agreement with PPC yesterday, said they will first verify the power producer’s claims.
“If there is truth to what PPC is saying, the ERC can always step in to arrange a compromise between Peco and PPC,” Juan said.
Juan further said they also applied the same compromise in the case of Visayas Electric Cooperative (Veco) and Cebu Private Power Corporation (CPPC) in Cebu.
CPPC planned to shut down its facility, which only accounts 20 percent of Cebu’s power demand, as Veco’s payment cannot sustain the former’s operation.
But concerted demands from Cebu’s local leadership and business community forced the ERC to address the problem.
Juan said while they are hearing Peco’s petition, they can propose a provisionary rate which can sustain PPC.
“We have a lot of measures to undertake if only to prevent a power blackout in Iloilo City. We can ask PPC and Peco to maintain the status quo for the meantime. There is also the possibility of coming up with a temporary rate pending the approval of Peco’s petition,” Juan said.
Juan said the ERC cannot allow a blackout to happen in the city given its disastrous effects to the economy.
But Juan said they cannot take over PPC’s facility because it is a private firm owned by Mirant Global Corporation.
“Maybe if the President sees it right to take over the plant, only she can do so,” Juan said.
Rotating brownouts
But the PPC said all they can do right now is to stretch their fuel supply for the meantime.
Engr. Adrian Moncada, Mirant assistant vice president, said their fuel stock is only up to December 15 as Shell has not been delivering diesel to PPC.
“As what we said before, Peco’s payment is not enough to pay for our fuel. Our supply is only good up to next week,” Moncada said.
As an option, Moncada said the PPC can reduce its capacity, which will result to rotating brownouts in the city, “so we can save on fuel until the supply lasts.”
“That is the least that could happen to Iloilo City. If the ERC can come up with a win-win decision, then we might just have a bright New Year’s celebration,” Moncada added.
Earlier, Mirant Vice President for Visayas New Business Arman Lapus said the ERC-ordered rate cut on Peco has affected their cash flow and eventually PPC’s operation.
Lapus said Peco owes PPC more than P250million for October and November.
In yesterday’s hearing, Peco presented documents required by the ERC in support for its petition.
Peco’s lead counsel was Atty. Honorato Sayno while Attys. Romeo Gerochi and Edeljulio Romero represented the oppositors.
After the presentation of the documents, Engr. Bienvenido Anatan, head of Peco’s engineering division, gave a technical explanation of Iloilo City’s power situation.
Anatan revealed a certification from National Power Corporation (Napocor) president Cyril Delcallar on their inability to meet Iloilo City’s 78MW demand on peak.
“Technically speaking, the Napocor cannot supply power to Iloilo City for lack of reliable sources,” Anatan said.
Anatan added Napocor’s output is not even enough for Panay.
Earlier, Engr. Nelson Homena, manager of the Panay diesel-fired power plant in Dingle, Iloilo, said they have no extra electricity to supply to Peco.
“What we have is only enough for our area in Panay. We are even having rotating brownouts due to low voltage. We cannot increase our capacity since it would be expensive for us,” Homena told this writer in a telephone interview Monday.
Homena also said they cannot rely on the Pinamucan power plant which is up for overhauling.
In the cross-examination, Gerochi queried Anatan on financial matters involving its power supply agreement with PPC.
But Anatan said his area is on the technical operations of Peco.
Gerochi said Anatan’s testimony was hearsay “because he failed to present PPC’s actual power rates.”
“He only based his claims on their accounting records. It could have been better if they had an official document duly signed by PPC officials,” the lawyer-cum-activist said.
But Sayno said Gerochi “did not demolish anything nor did he establish anything.”
This early, Sayno claimed victory in yesterday’s hearing.
“We believe the hearing was successful while we achieved the intention to present our witness who brought out the power supply and demand scenario here. We felt that there is a looming energy crisis in Panay Island,” Sayno stressed.
Interestingly, not one City Hall official was present at the hearing held at the ATM Building in Ledesma Street.
Vice Mayor Guillermo Dela Llana, who acts in behalf of Mayor Jerry Treñas who is abroad, said they will wait and see the ERC decision on Peco’s petition.
Dela Llana also declined to make a stand on the issue. “It is up to Mayor Treñas to make a stand on this.”
Officials of Iloilo Business Club led by president Antonio Jon, Marissa Segovia and Ma. Leah Victoria Lara showed up to observe the proceedings.
Although the IBC has yet to come up an official stance on Peco’s petition, Lara said they are concerned with the looming blackout once PPC shuts down.
The next hearing is on January 19, 2006 although Gerochi petitioned to move the schedule to an earlier date.
Juan said he will refer Gerochi’s motion to the ERC en banc. (Published in The Guardian, December 7, 2005 issue)


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