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OUTRAGE OVER POWER OUTAGE: MORE Power hit for ‘lack of expertise’

first_img“What about people with asthma and high blood pressure,” said Rusty Gonzales, a resident of the city. “Your 13-hour brownout is making us suffer, okay? We have been suffering for the past months, weeks because of your brownouts.” The rotating brownouts were due to the preventive maintenance at Substation 2 or the Jaro substation yesterday. These affected several feeders – and subsequently resulted in electricity service disruptions in many villages or residential areas as well as businesses. One of the substation’s major feeders experienced a six-hour power outage in late March, a month after MORE Power took over operations from PECO, which MORE Power has since claimed it had addressed. Consumers’ distress was compounded by the fact that the repairs were undertaken on a very hot summer day, thereby giving rise to inconvenience as well as triggering health risks such as heatstroke or respiratory conditions, especially to the vulnerable population of the city. MORE Power had been claiming it hired enough technically competent personnel and assuring consumers that Iloilo City’s power supply would be stabilized under its control. But experts expressed concerned a 13-hour downtime was too long for a job that could be finished in eight hours given enough skilled manpower. MORE Power took over the power distribution service in Iloilo City even as PECO accused it of having no requisite technical expertise in operating an electricity system, and it was just basically armed with a franchise granted by Congress. Over the course of April and May, however, Substation 2 experienced multiple total shutdowns. “Gapangagaw kamo sang indi inyo, indi nyo man gali kaya. I-balik nyo na lang sa tunay nga tag-iya. Ti ano, pa-antuson nyo kami sang 13 oras? Puerte pa nga daan ka-init. Shame on you (You took away what’s not yours and you can’t run it well. Better return it to the rightful owners),” said Erlinda Sanagustin. PECO, on the other hand, had ordered and paid for a mobile substation already, ready to be deployed to avert a long power outage and to service the developments at Megaworld’s Iloilo Business Park. It was scheduled for installation in March but was not completed because of MORE Power’s hasty takeover. Government regulators have been directing power utilities to avoid undertaking “maintenance schedules” during summer months because this is when demand reaches peak, and it is also perilous to trouble consumers with brownouts when temperatures are rising. As late as the last March 11 hearing with the Energy Regulatory Commission, MORE Power was still unable to produce an employee roster that verified its technical competency. Until now, MORE Power heavily relies on contractors instead. An increase in load is a yearly anticipation for power industry players during the summer months due to the rise in temperature. Weeks of preparation are required in advance, but given the controversial transfer of control during the most crucial time, it is difficult to know how well the two power companies cooperated. To date, the case regarding the constitutionality of MORE Power’s takeover of the power distribution facilities here remained pending with the Supreme Court./PN ILOILO City – The long, nearly 13-hour power service interruption scheduled by MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power) to carry out maintenance activities enraged some consumers in this city as this aggravated their suffering while wading through stay-at-home quarantine because of the coronavirus pandemic. MORE Power previously assured residents that Iloilo City’s power supply would stabilize under its watch. But with constant brownouts and yesterday’s long power outage, disappointed consumers were starting to wonder whether MORE Power was really competent to hand the job. However, PECO’s records showed that Substation 2 underwent preventive maintenance twice during its lifetime. Other repairs and parts replacement were continuously done on an as-needed basis. Another power outage occurred at the 25MVA Mandurriao substation the night before, which Panay Electric Co. (PECO) had successfully maintained within nine hours despite it having a much larger transformer. MORE Power president Roel Castro, in fact, promised during congressional hearings that MORE Power would provide such mobile substation. But despite the promise of a P1.9-billion investment in Iloilo, MORE Power had not rolled it out.  Industry experts said the Jaro substation could have been unloaded prior to the maintenance to a 10 MVA mobile substation that would operate during the ongoing work.  “The 13-hour brownout is the minimum number of hours that our contractor needs to finish the maintenance services for the Jaro substation,” stated MORE Power itself. “Our technical team from the Planning and Network Operations departments supervises the execution of the contract.” According to MORE Power, the Jaro substation had not been maintained by PECO for the past eight years.last_img

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