GMA declares power crisis in Mindanao

PNS — PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo yesterday bared that she has given the green light to declare a power crisis in Mindanao even as Malacañang assured that it has no links with apprehensions for a failure of elections being plotted by the ruling regime on recommendation of Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes to address the worsening power shortage in the region aggravated by the El Niño phenomenon.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m adopting his (Reyes) recommendation,’’ President Arroyo told Palace reporters in an ambush interview after emerging from the awarding ceremonies for The Outstanding Philippine Soldiers in Malacañang’s Rizal Hall.

It will be recalled that Secretary Reyes earlier submitted his recommendations to the President to address the worsening power shortage in Mindanao triggered by the El Niño phenomenon.

Reyes said that declaring a power crisis would allow the government to invoke Section 71 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) and enable state-run National Power Corp. (Napocor) to buy or lease modular generation sets to augment the power supply in the island.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Ricardo Saludo said that the declaration would enable the government to import generating capacities under the rules to be stipulated by Congress in a special session under the EPIRA law provisions.

Saludo, however, said that calling of a special session has not been included in the Reyes recommendation.

He said that the measures have nothing to do with the May 10 elections.

Earlier, Reyes pledged sufficient supply of power during the elections even as the DOE briefed the Commission on Elections on the power situation in the country amid the El Niño.

He expects the power situation in Luzon to normalize with the coming back on line of the Sual power plant with 647 megawatts and later of the Calaca power plants with 190 megawatts, which broke down together with Calaca with 350 megawatts.

Unit I of the Sual power plant in Pangasinan has been on line since 6:03 Tuesday morning, providing Luzon with sufficient electricity.

The shutdown of the Sual and Masinloc power plants forced Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) to implement rotating brownouts in Metro Manila and nearby provinces on Monday.

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) said on Tuesday Masinloc 1 was still undergoing technical problems and won’t go back online until March 7.

Some areas that may still be affected include Batangas City, San Jose and San Pascual in Batangas province; and Baliwag and Bustos in Bulacan province.