The impact of power loss

INTROSPECTIVE - Tony F. Katigbak - The Philippine Star

I am writing this at home, during a brownout, on a laptop with reserve battery that isn’t going to last for more than a few hours. This is the reality of the current situation. It was in the news last Monday that the Luzon power grid was on red alert because of the lack of power supply at a time when people need power the most.

Unfortunately, we don’t ever seem to be solution- oriented, and instead of mitigating this potential problem, we instead respond to it the only way we know how – rotational brownouts. The same solutions implemented in the 1990s when we had the same problem. While I am sure that there are more factors involved here that we may not know about, it’s frustrating to think that we wind up in the literal dark ages again without a viable solution in sight.

Over the past several months that we have been at home, our use of power has risen exponentially. The same is true for internet, water, and every basic necessity. And because of the continuing pandemic, the demand for these services isn’t going to decrease any time soon. Couple that with the rising temperatures, and I think we all knew we were headed for a collision course this summer. The hottest days on record and not enough power supply to meet demand.

Add to that a raging global pandemic and the inability of people to go to a mall for respite from the heat or to a coffee shop to be able to meet unmovable deadlines, and it’s a recipe for disaster. Even the power company admitting that we should expect rotational brownouts isn’t going to make the stifling heat disappear or make the deadlines at work suddenly go away. We have to ask ourselves, what is the solution?

This is something that has to be addressed as quickly as possible. Heat stroke is no joke and the impact brownouts might have on vaccination sites is another big concern. We all already have so much on our plate with the virus and doing our best to uplift a struggling economy, we really can’t add no power – and because of that no WIFI and even no water for some – to our list of growing problems.

I hope that this is something the Department of Energy (DOE) can address in the days ahead. The Senate had promised that they would stay on top of the situation and that we shouldn’t expect rotational power losses in April, May, or June. But it is now June and it looks like without a sustainable path forward in place, this is a problem we may have to face daily. I hope they can find a better solution and implement it quickly. We can’t afford to drag our feet, push the blame around or waste time.

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As the vaccination drives continue in earnest, it has become such a pleasant sight to see more and more people getting their jabs on social media. Over the last couple of weeks more friends and family in various vaccine categories have shared images and statuses of them getting their first or second dose at various vaccination sites. The more people that are able to get vaccinated, the better and this is something else that requires speed and for people not to get complacent.

It’s nice to see widespread programs in certain local government units (LGUs) and in the private sector offering incentives and rewards to promote vaccination. SM is offering turon to those newly vaccinated. Some cities are offering free pens and free snacks, while others are taking it a step further and holding raffles for vaccinated citizens to win prizes like 25 kilos of rice or even a house and lot. The message is clear – we need to get as many people vaccinated as possible, and if it requires a reward for the effort then so be it.

Hopefully all of this, alongside spreading the right information from trusted sources, is enough to convince people who remain on the fence about getting the vaccine. In the latest numbers it was the senior citizens that have low turnout. It’s understandable that some of our older citizens might be scared or worried, but we all have to do our part in getting them the life-protecting vaccine. Even if it can’t 100 percent prevent transmission – especially in the small volume of vaccines that have been given in the country so far – it will still prevent very bad symptoms and death.

At the very least if we push with a robust vaccination plan and keep it going we can help alleviate the hospitals, and hopefully nurture a downward trend in COVID-19 cases in the country. This is the plan of action right now and our way forward we all have to do our part.

In the meantime, let’s hope for a respite from the heat and for the power to hold. Keep hydrated, keep your masks on, and stay home as much as possible. There are a lot of things that are outside our control right now and I can understand how that can make anyone feel restless, worried, angry, and disheartened. But while we push for positive changes, we need to stay committed to the things we can control and do those well.

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