Enrile smells sabotage in power, water shortage

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Creating an artificial shortage on power and water to weaken an administration is tantamount to sabotaging the government.

Five power plants are still down while one is producing electricity below capacity

Thus, warned former Senate President and Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino senatorial bet Juan Ponce-Enrile yesterday amid the continuing shortfall on power and water supplies in Metro Manila and adjacent areas.

Speculations, mainly on social media, are cropping up that the ongoing shortage of power and water supplies was meant to weaken the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Enrile, however, downplayed such speculations, stressing companies involved in public utility services cannot afford to do that, “otherwise they could face state sanctions.”
He branded the shortage of water supply in areas covered by Manila Water as a clear proof that it violated the concession agreement with the government by failing to upgrade its facilities.

The Department of Energy (DoE), nonetheless, advised the public not to worry about power outages after the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines said the Luzon grid is in a “normal power condition” after being placed under yellow and red alerts in the past days due to thin electricity supply.

Five power plants are still down while one is producing electricity below capacity. The “de-rated” plant was Unit 2 of SEM-Calaca Power Corp., which is producing only 200 megawatts instead of its normal capacity of 300 MW.

Those that are currently non-operational are: Panasia Energy Inc. Limay A1, which tripped due to actuation of turbine overspeed relay on 13 April; SMC Consolidated Power Corp. Limay Unit 2, which suffered from boiler tube leak on 11 April; Team Energy Corporation Sual Unit 1, which experienced boiler circulating pump piping leak last 9 April; Southwest Luzon Power Generation Corp. Unit 2, which was hit by vibration in the primary air fan last 7 April and the Pagbilao Energy Corp. Unit 3 that suffered boiler sagging last 2 April.

Yellow backer
Manila Water which had to reduce supply and water pressure last month is owned by the Ayalas who are identified with the family of former President Aquino.

On the power shortfall, Enrile reiterated that the controversial Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001 clearly was a failure.

“Maybe not, because (creating an artificial shortage to discredit the administration) will be sabotaging the republic and since public utilities are public service firms, they cannot afford to do that,” Enrile told the Daily Tribune when sought for comment.

He said that in the case of Manila Water, the company failed to upgrade its facilities even after expanding its area of coverage.

“Manila Water expanded its area without expanding the supply of water by upgrading its facilities,” Enrile said.

“If they expanded their area of coverage without commensurate expansion of its water supply that is a violation of the concession,” he added.

Manila Water was supposed to open its Rizal water treatment plant in Cardona last December but failed to fully operate the facility despite collecting in advance from its customers.

“This should be looked at seriously,” Enrile said.

On the EPIRA, Enrile said the law failed to deliver stable supply and prices of power as proven by the current power outages.

Enrile, however, also cited the El Niño phenomenon as being a huge factor in the ongoing water and energy shortfall due to “the very high demand as a result of extreme heat throughout the country.”

Updates to be frequent
DoE, on the other hand, said it will continue to update the public on developments in power supply.

The Philippines is not expected to undergo a power crisis because the potential causes of problems, as well as their remedies, have already been identified, Energy Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella said at a briefing.

“Whatever crisis the Philippines might be hit with, we are prepared, we are resilient,” he said, noting that they have identified strategies for possible problems on distribution, demand and supply.

The Luzon grid has been experiencing a drop in power reserves for several days now but Fuentebella maintained that the power outlook, based on data, is still adequate.

He attributed the thinning supply of electricity to unplanned outages and de-rated capacity of some power plants.

He said only 827 MW was expected to be removed from the system as some power plants have been scheduled to undergo maintenance, thus, these cannot generate normal capacity.

As it happened, however, the system actually lost 1,452 MW after four power plants went into unplanned outages.

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