‘We have to decide, no time for delay’ — Celso PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 18 March 2013 11:17

Mayor Celso Lobregat the other day challenged power stakeholders to decide the earliest possible time on the different options presented by the Department of Energy to ease the power situation in Zamboanga stressing there is no time to delay or the city will lose the opportunity.

Otherwise, he said, Zamboanga will once again be left with no choice but to take only what is only available and suffer prolonged brownouts.

Lobregat said this during the Zamboanga Power Forum, which the local government initiated with the support of the Mindanao Development Authority and the Department of Energy Friday at the Centro Latino in Paseo del Mar. Through the intervention of President Noynoy Aquino, no less than Energy Secretary Carlos Petilla, MINDA Chair and Sec. Luwalhati Antonino, National Electrification Administrator head Edita Bueno and executives and representatives from the Energy Regulatory Commission, PSALM, National Power Corporation, power generators and other agencies concerned were present during the forum to help explain and clarify issues as well as to offer short, medium and long term solutions to the problem.

Lobregat said aside from the 5 megawatts that is forthcoming on the 3rd week of April from Mapalad Corporation based on a contract with Zamcelco, an additional 5MW [which will be the same cost as the previous contract with Mapalad] is also coming based on an arrangement that the DOE together with Zamcelco, the power generator and other concerned agencies worked out prior to the power forum Friday arrangement.

“It is a blessing that we were the first ones to sit down and plan this forum”, the mayor declared, as he said another option is also available which is another 5MW from the SPPC company which is willing to sell power to Zamcelco for as long as the ERC would grant the authority. “If we don’t get it, we will lose it, we have to decide now, there is no more time to procrastinate”.

Based on past experiences, the mayor lamented, Zamcelco has encountered difficulties in finalizing contracts for power sale due to oppositions from some sectors.

“This is our problem, every time there are contracts, there are sectors that object, so if you are to object then bring out your complaints to the ERC otherwise, that is the right way to do it”, he said. “Do not delay the process, go to the ERC that’s the way to do it”, he reiterated.

On criticisms that the local government purchase generators sets and power barges to help solve the power shortage, Lobregat said government by law is supposed to be out of the power business as he cited one local government that continued to operate a public utility that ended up with debts reaching as much as P4 billion.

“Government is not the effective manager to be in utilities,” he said.

He likewise emphasized that the power crisis is experienced by entire Mindanao but the curtailment is not equal in all areas.

Referring to questions as to why Davao and Cagayan de Oro are not suffering from brownouts unlike Zamboanga,    Lobregat said these areas have spare tires in the form of embedded plants operated by private companies.

Power supply in Davao and CDO are run by private companies which is why these areas have no brownouts but the people in these areas pay higher rates—much higher than what Zamcelco is paying to the supplier.

“In fact if you look at the rates in the different parts of the country, Zamboanga pays the lowest rate. So we have to make a choice. Do we want power when we need power ? Then we have to bite the bullet. We need spare tires, these are the questions that need to be answered and decided,” the mayor stressed.

The mayor thanked Sec Petilla and Sec. Antonino as well as the other officials who came all the way from Manila and Davao to join in the forum and to help explain to the people of Zamboanga about the real power situation in Mindanao as well as offer short, medium and long term solutions to the problem.

He also thanked President Aquino, whom he and Cong. Climaco met in Malacanang together with Sec Mar Roxas early last week to discuss about the power problem in the city and which resulted to the well-attended power forum last Friday.

Aside from Petilla and Antonino, other guests during the forum were NEA Administrator Edita Bueno, NEA Deputy Administrator Engr. Edgar Piamonte, ERC Executive Director Atty. Saturnino Juan, MINDA Executive Director Janet Lopoz, NPC Mindanao Generation representative Pedro Ambos, AMRECO Executive Director Clint Pacana, Conal Holdings Corporation Vice president Joseph Nocos, TRANSCO Consultant Marlon Parot and numerous others.  From the City Government side, present were Congresspersons Beng Climaco and ERbie Fabian, members of the City Council and some department heads. — Sheila Covarrubias