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NEA probes power coops for technical competence

MANILA, Philippines - The National Electrification Administration (NEA) will subject all electric cooperatives (ECs) to a reliability test to ensure their compliance with the standards set by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

In a statement, NEA said its technical services sector is set to conduct a probe on all ECs.

“We are evaluating the 2016 reliability of the electric cooperatives, including the first semester from January 2017 to June 2017,” NEA deputy administrator Artis Nikki Tortola said.

“We are looking into the reliability compliance of the electric cooperatives based on the standards set by the ERC,” he added.

At present, there are 121 ECs in the country currently under NEA’s supervision.

Tortola said the investigation will determine if all the ECs meet the reliability standards set by the ERC.

NEA said the probe will give special attention to several ECs, which have received complaints concerning reliability, especially with regard to the duration and frequency of power interruptions.

Among these cooperatives are Palawan Electric Cooperative (Paleco), Occidental Mindoro Electric Cooperative Inc. (Omeco), Oriental Mindoro Electric Cooperative Inc. (Ormeco) and Aklan Electric Cooperative Inc. Boracay area (Akelco).

“There is no exemption. If they fail, we will determine the reasons behind this and take appropriate actions,” Tortola said.

Earlier this week,Tortola met with Paleco general manager Ric Zambales and technical services engineer Ricardo Adajao to discuss the cause of the recurrent power interruptions being experienced by the residents of Palawan since January 2017.

During the discussion, Paleco claimed majority of the outages were caused by transmission line faults and transmission maintenance.

“One notable reason is the issue on vegetation, not just involving the distribution system of Paleco, but most especially on the transmission lines,” Tortola said.

“This transmission line is more or less a 300-kilometer line stretching from the northern portion of Puerto Princesa going down to the southern portion of Puerto Princesa. This line connects the generating plants serving Paleco. Now, this line is heavily vegitated as claimed by Paleco. In the event of fault along this line, the interruption would affect almost all of the consumers of the cooperative,” he added.

According to Paleco, this transmission line is maintained by the National Power Corp.

The Senate committee on energy, chaired by Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, has given the NEA until yesterday, Aug. 11, 2017, to probe the prolonged power outages in Puerto Princesa.

Moreover, Tortola assured the public that NEA is exerting all efforts to ensure that all electric cooperatives are satisfactorily meeting their obligations to their member-consumers.

“NEA looks at not only at the management side of the electric cooperatives, but also their performance. In fact, we frequently ask electric cooperatives to explain the reasons of interruption that affects majority, if not all of the consumers in the cooperative,” he said.

NEA management teams have also been deployed to similarly situated ECs like Masbate Electric Cooperative Inc., Camarines Sur III Electric Cooperative Inc., Davao del Norte Electric Cooperative Inc.  and Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative Inc.

It added that it formed Task Force Duterte, composed of NEA technical and management experts, to reverse the plight of these ailing ECs.

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