‘Outages’ send tourists packing

PUERTO GALERA, Oriental Mindoro—Tourists are preparing to leave while visitors who booked in advance have canceled their reservations in anticipation of a total power blackout in this major resort town.

The blackout will last for 300 days or 10 months starting next week, the Oriental Mindoro Electric Cooperative Inc. said.

Ormeco general manager Pat Panagsagan Jr. served notice that at 8 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 18, there would be a total blackout if generators are not installed in Bgy. San Isidro (White Beach) on time.

The National Power Corp., as grid owner, will shut down the transmission line going from Calapan City to Puerto Galera to start the full rehabilitation of its 69 kv power transmission line, Panagsagan said.

Pueto Galera (Photo from www.puertogalera.gov.ph)

The announcement did not sit well with local officials of Puerto Galera, led by Mayor Rockey Ilagan and the Sangguniang Bayan, because they were only informed about it on the last week of July.

Ilagan lashed out at Panagsagan and NPC manager Maximo de los Reyes for “holding the town hostage” since they just announced in a recent public consultation that the 69 kv rehabilitation was approved since last February.

In between the months of February and July or for six months, Ormeco and NPC did not tell Puerto Galera officials that there would be a major rehabilitation of the 69 kv line that would affect power delivery in the municipality.

“Then after six months in the last week of July, they came hurriedly applying for a business permit, without presenting the required Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC), to install six modular gensets in Bgy. San Isidro,” Ilagan said. The gensets are capable of producing six megawatts of electricity.

Town officials said they were confused by the NPC’s 11th-hour decision to rush the installation of the generators, without presenting the necessary environmental permits, and the accompanying threat to shut down power, which would kill the economy.

Ilagan did not issue a business permit to the MGC because it had no ECC from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

In the resolution, the Puerto Galera municipal board said it has no objection to the installation of the modular generators as long as the MGC secures the necessary permits, including the ECC, and that the project will not cause any harm to the environment of the host community.

Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, meanwhile, has asked his fellow lawmakers to look into the approval of the Manila Electric Co.’s seven power supply agreements.

“The existing coal-fired power plants are outdated and insufficient, rendering them vulnerable to transmission failure,” he said. With Rio N. Araja