Tag Archives: National Grid Corporation (NGCP)

Black-out in Bicol is collective punishment for the sins of NEA!

Why should the people suffer en masse from sins not of their own making?

This is the reaction of Sentro ng mga Nagkakaisa at Progresibong Manggagawa (SENTRO) in a statement released after the National Grid Corporation (NGCP) cut off the power supply for the Camarines Sur Electric Cooperative III, Inc.  (CASURECO III, Inc.) two days ago. The NGCP action left some 78,000 consumers of Iriga City and the municipalities of Bato, Baao, Balatan, Bula, Nabua, and Buhi – or what is known as Rinconada – without power up to now.

Both the residential and commercial customers of these towns immediately denounced the forced disconnection last March 30, 2014, saying people and business should not be penalized for the failures of the CASURECO III board of directors as well as the National Electrification Administration (NEA). NEA assumed jurisdiction over the electric cooperative last February 2014 using its “step-in” rights and failed to ensure that the cooperative could pay its bills.

“Grid disconnection is denial of electricity to citizens on a massive scale. It is a ruthless form of collective punishment that is patently unacceptable,” Jun Unay, coordinator of the SENTRO Power Industry Workers’ Council declared.

Unay explained that the guidelines under the Magna Carta for Electricity Consumers was silent on what kind of framework NGCP should follow in implementing grid-scale disconnection that impacts on the right of every consumers, big and small, to enjoy stable and reliable supply of electricity. As such, SENTRO emphasized that under such a situation, the national government is duty-bound to protect the rights and interest of its people rather than leave them captive and helpless in an industry ruled by crooks and oligarchs.

“Government should have a national policy protecting electricity consumers from forced, grid-scale disconnection due to unpaid power bills by their electric cooperatives,” Unay asserted.

While calling on the government to immediately reconnect power in Bicol , SENTRO also called for the establishment of clear guidelines in securing guaranteed labor rights such as job and income security for those affected by new policies being implemented by NEA for both ailing and non-ailing electric cooperatives.

“The government takes over electric cooperatives with the intent of turning them over to private corporations, trampling upon labor and consumer rights in the process,” according to SENTRO National Secretary General Josua Mata.

SENTRO cited the case of Albay Electric Cooperative Inc. (ALECO, Inc.) whose employees were terminated and replaced when San Miguel Energy Corporation (SMEC) took over the electric cooperative in 2014. On the same year, the same happened in Pampanga Electric Cooperative II, Inc. (PELCO II, Inc.) where hundreds of regular employees were also displaced by NEA’s scheme of management contract.

The SENTRO is a national labor center where the unions in CASURECO III, the CASURECO III Employees Union (CEU III) and CASURECO III Supervisory Union

Power crisis real, strategic but gov’t doing mere quick fix – labor coalition

The emerging power crisis is a cruel outcome of a bad policy under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) that cannot be resolved by the proposed emergency power President Aquino is seeking from Congress, the labor coalition Nagkaisa said in a statement.

The group said it is not common for ordinary workers to comment on techno-economic aspects of the power industry, but for this coming celebration of Bonifacio Day on November 30, labor will come out loud on this along with other big issues because the high cost of power in the country is making the lives of ordinary workers more miserable.

According to Wilson Fortaleza, spokesperson for Partido Manggagawa (PM) and one of the convenors of Nagkaisa, “this quick-fix solution via an emergency power to address a decade-old problems of escalating rates and diminishing supply reignited labor’s apprehension that once again, a power crisis is being transformed into business opportunity for the private sector.”

Fortaleza was referring to the Interruptible Load Program (ILP) and power contracting being pursued through a joint resolution in Congress that would grant the President emergency powers to address the expected power shortage in 2015.

He said the ILP can be pursued by the Department of Energy (DoE) even without the President exercising emergency powers because it is merely a demand-side management issue and not production of additional generating capacity as required under Section 71 of EPIRA.

“Likewise, the foreign and privately-operated National Grid Corporation must first be made to account for its primary responsibility to secure reliable supply, including sufficient reserve capacities,” argued Fortaleza.

The group explained that the ILP is a mode for utilizing standby power or embedded generating capacity available in several establishments such as malls and commercial buildings. During shortage, their utilization means an x amount of freed megawatt capacity that can be supplied by Meralco to other users.

Fortaleza, however, said that for this alone an emergency power is not needed. So why is Malacanang asking for it? The group can only think of the following scenarios:

– Under the ILP enrollment is voluntary but enrollees will be compensated to incentivize their participation

– But because there is no system currently in place to exactly determine the price of compensation, imposing a universal levy – an x amount per kWh to be charged to consumers take-or-pay – is the most likely scheme.

– Retail electricity suppliers (RES) who already posses contracted capacities under the open access (but which they cannot supply to their contestable market because most of them are also ILP players) will also be compensated.

These, in effect, will result to rate increases. But Fortaleza insists that a take-or-pay levy cannot be charged to consumers under ILP since embedded generation sets were designed or were practically built by industry players to address expected and non-expected outages.

“So why do we have to pay them for that temporary sacrifice? And why will Henry Sy, John Gokongwei and Jaime Ayala charge an x amount per kWh from everyone, including non-mall users?”

The group argued further that the only valid excuse for utilizing emergency powers is when the government goes back to generation, stop industry fraud, and makes a decisive shift to renewable energy and energy democracy.