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Cebeco to help on Camotes power situation
By: Eleanor Valeros | Published Saturday, August 08, 2020
Gov. Gwen Garcia meets with town mayors of Camotes Island, Provincial Board members, and representatives of Cebu Electric Cooperative (Cebeco) to discuss the power situation in the island. (Tonee Despojo)

The Cebu Electric Cooperative (Cebeco) committed to assist the Camotes Group of Islands address the outrageous power outages which went on for years despite meetings with electric power provider Camotes Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Celco) and the National Power Corporation - Special Power Utilities Group (NPC-SPUG).

Ronnel T. Arañez, Cebeco assistant general manager and chief of the Technical Services Department, said that Cebeco takes its social corporate responsibility to Camotes after learning of the power interruptions that stretch up to seven hours daily, hurting consumers and businesses badly.

The brownouts went as worse as 12 hours. This happened 99 times from January to July of this year, according to a discussion made today, August 8, in San Francisco town attended by Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, San Francisco Mayor Alfredo "Al" Arquillano Jr., Poro Mayor Edgar "Garry" Rama, and Tudela Mayor Greman "Jojo" Solante, among other officials.

Arañez said that tolerable number of power trips according to the frequency index for brownouts of the Energy Regulatory Commission is 30 times per year.

"Kauban ni nato nga member of electric cooperatives ang Celco so ato gyud ning tabangan. Electricity is important in driving the economy mao na nga motabang ang Cebeco," Arañez said.

He mentioned that in coordination with NPC-SPUG, immediate correction of faults in distribution lines can be done by Tuesday, August 11.

However, the upgrade of distribution lines could take months because of the procurement of materials. 

When Garcia asked Arañez how Cebeco takes a recoup from the cost of the assistance, Arañez said that this will be in a form of a loan sans interest rate. 

A meeting with Cebeco I, II, and III is set on August 12 with its president Fr. Francisco "Paking" Silva, the NPC-SPUG, and Celco.

Governor Garcia is dismayed that Celco, headed by Emmanuel Suarez, and NPC-SPUG, headed by Timoteo Diacor, failed to work on the upgrade of distribution lines despite meetings late last year.

Mayor Rama expressed that in a Joint Resolution of the Sangguniang Bayan, they have pointed out their loss of trust and confidence in Celco’s top management, thus change in leadership was deemed to be a must.

"Gipadayag lang pud nato nga naggikan ang mga yangungo sa atong consumers, dili ra ni gikan namo," Rama said.

Mayor Solante said that Camotes is indeed in a difficult situation where “na-Covid na, nagsige pa'g brownout, dakong babag sa atong kalambuan."

Camotes resort owner Ran Cartagena said he is glad that Garcia is a hands-on leader. 

"Nagpasalamat ko ni Gov nga gipangunayan gyud ni niya kay maguba man gud ang vibes sa island tourism if sige og brownout. Apil man gud na sa customer experience. So kon dili maayo ilang stay diri dili na gyud na sila mobalik and dili sad maayo atong reviews ana. So hope ma-settle na ning brownouts," Cartagena said.

The Camotes Group of Islands, composed of four municipalities, have a total average power need of three megawatts for lean season. For peak season, consumption needs could surge to a demand of 3.3 megawatts, excluding Pilar town, according to data provided by the National Electrification Administration. 

Diacor has always assured of enough supply and power reserve in the past two meetings at the Capitol last year. 

However, with the failure of both Celco and NPC - SPUG to address the concern, it is also evident that the two entities have not really been in good terms, the governor expressed, which should be settled in the next meeting as the toll of the brownouts on economic losses in the island has already come to an outrageous level.

Camotes Corporation (CamCorp), an independent power producer, is also interested to join the meeting in Capitol by August 12 as it pledged to replicate the system used in Bantayan Island on efficient power distribution. (Eleanor Valeros)