Tulfo slams ‘negligence’ of Oriental Mindoro power provider, sets Senate probe

Senate Committee on Energy chairman Sen. Raffy Tulfo has called for a Senate investigation on the “unacceptable” power outages in Oriental Mindoro amid a purported supply shortage.

During his radio program last 5 August, Tulfo berated officials of the Oriental Mindoro Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Ormeco), the power distributor in the districts of Oriental Mindoro, for alleged “negligence” amid a looming power crisis.

The senator vowed to pen a resolution that would investigate, in aid of legislation, the root causes of the decades-long electricity problem in the province.

Tulfo reiterated that cooperative officials should be held accountable for the inconveniences the power shortage has caused residents of Oriental Mindoro.

The Department of Energy (DoE) said Tuesday that it will support Tulfo’s probe.

The DoE, as ordered by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., will push for initiatives to develop long-term and sustainable solutions to power supply woes in off-grid areas like Mindoro, according to Energy secretary Raphael Perpetuo Lotilla.

“As we speak, the Energy Regulatory Commission is already attending to these problems. The President is not after band-aid solutions. Fifteen years ago, we absorbed P18 billion of the debts of electric cooperatives. Now, 15 years later, it’s even north of P18 billion. We have to look for the long-term solution,” Lotilla said at a press conference.

Citing a report by the World Bank, Lotilla said the island of Mindoro has an untapped potential of about 26 gigawatts (GW). “The town of Sablayan (in Occidental Mindoro) is bigger than the province of Cavite. We need to interconnect the island. And the key is how to transform the National Power Corporation into a dynamo [to do] missionary electrification.”

Mindoro is an off-grid island, which means it is not connected to the main Luzon grid controlled and operated by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).

Decades-long electricity problem

Engr. Humphrey Dolor, ORMECO’s acting general manager, said the recurring brownouts were due to issues with the previous power supplier.

Last 4 August, a day before Tulfo’s radio show, Ormeco signed an Emergency Power Supply Agreement (EPSA) with TOPTEAM Power Generation, Inc. for the procurement of 18.3 megawatts (MW) of power supply following the termination of the contract with the province’s previous supplier.

The agreement is part of the 22.3-MW Dependable Capacity Emergency Power Procurement between Ormeco and DMCI Power Corp. and TOPTEAM.

“We terminated our interim contract with our previous supplier,” Dolor said in a radio interview on Monday. “The contract should end by August 26, but we terminated it as early as August 5, that’s why we had to sign an emergency power procurement. Our previous contractor cited the rising fuel prices, but we cannot pass the additional rates to our consumers. We terminated the contract to sustain operations,” Dolor said in a radio interview on Monday.

“The lack of supply is not only due to the low production of our power plant but also due to the low production of our renewable resources. We have 16-MW wind power here in Puerto Galera — so far it has zero productions,” he explained.

Based on the DoE’s Philippine Energy Plan 2022-2024, preparatory work is in place to develop business plans for the off-grid islands of Mindoro, Palawan Catanduanes and Marinduque, to be handled by the state-run National Transmission Corporation (TransCo).

NGCP had already proposed to build a P2.2-billion power network connecting these islands to the Luzon grid, including a plan to construct the Batangas-Mindoro interconnection project worth P16.87 billion.


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