Review of Napocor’s power utility ops sought

Delon Porcalla - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Citing recurring power outages not only in Luzon but also in Mindanao, a lawmaker called yesterday for a review of the operations of small power utility groups (SPUGs) of the National Power Corp. (Napocor).

Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman filed House Resolution 708 in view of Napocor’s announcement of reduced electricity service in its covered areas starting Feb. 1.

“This has been a problem for too long now. Year in, year out, we hear the same problems. I don’t think it’s right that we just sit idly and let our people suffer the same problem over and over again,” Hataman said.

Napocor cited fuel supply shortage and the delay in universal cost for missionary electrification (UCME) subsidy payment for the reduction of electricity service in SPUG areas starting next month.

Hataman said recurring power outages are also affecting tourism in island provinces such as Palawan.

“I don’t think it’s right that we just accept everything as it is. Maybe there is really a need for us to check the law on this and discuss solutions to this Napocor problem so that this will no longer recur every time,” he said.

Hataman’s resolution seeks a review of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act or EPIRA, particularly on the operations of the SPUG.

Under EPIRA, UCME, which is collected from end-users, is utilized for the electrification of remote communities or areas not connected to the main transmission grid.

Napocor-SPUG is currently supplying 229 missionary areas across the country, most of which have yet to attain 24-hour electricity service.

Hataman said last year’s power crisis due to Napocor’s financial obligations amounting to P1.2 billion resulted in long hours of power interruptions and a threat of total blackout in Basilan and other parts of Mindanao.

The total blackout was averted following interventions by the Departments of Energy, Finance and Budget and Management.

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