By Zoilo P. Dejaresco III
The roaring complaints across Bohol due to power blackouts towards year-end 2016 are similar to those being aired by its tourism rival – Boracay today.
The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry and a group of businessmen and consumers in Boracay gave an ill-tempered letter to the Department of Energy (DOE) and President Rodrigo Duterte recently.
They complained the blackouts (sometimes lasting for hours) are getting the goat of tourists and destroying the consumers’ TV sets, aircon units and other home appliances. The DOE ordered the National Electrification Administration to solve the problem in Aklan province immediately.
Tourist operators complained that the acute power situation wrecked their many years of selling the Boracay as “the magical stretch of white beach” globally. There were 1.7 million tourists who visited Boracay last year and causes a daily peak power demand of 26 MW.
Akelco, power distributor of the 1,062-hectare island, clumsily points to fruit bats and geckos (lizards), strong winds and the transferring of poles from private lots as the reasons.
But try giving those reasons to people who suffer power shortage during the Christmas season.
The same has been happening to Bohol province late 2016 – earning the rightful ire of businesses and private power users as well citing the same fiery complaints hoisted by the angry Boracay folks. Tripping at the Leyte base source and the presence of falling vegetation near the lines were cited as reasons by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines.
“Misery loves company” does not apply in this case.
If Boracay and Bohol’s power woes do not find solutions soon – our tourism rivals like Cebu and Palawan will have both their rival-islands biting the dust.
For instance, Cebu’s peak demand is 885 MW but it has a dependable capacity supply of 867.7 MW. The embedded capacity is 446 while only 339 MW are imported (244 MW from Leyte’s geothermal) and the balance from Negros Oriental’s geothermal source.
But Cebu has prepared for the future. There are the new 246 MWW plant of the Cebu Energy Development Corporation and a Naga (Southern Cebu) 60-MW solar plant by Menlo Renewable Energy Corporation.
This is not counting the 82MW coal-plant of the Toledo Power Corporation.
Beautiful Palawan seems to have solved its previous power shortage with the installation this year of the bunker-fired power plant of 26.6 MW (cost of P1.6 billion) by Delta P, Palawan’s largest independent power producer. That would stabilize the demand and supply equation there.
Moreover, Palawan is busy transforming itself into the “Renewable Energy Capital” of the country with the DOE approval of the run-of-the river mini hydro plants of Langogan Power Corporation, utilizing three major rivers in Palawan- producing another 20MW power facility.
(DMCI’s 25 MW coal plant in Palawan is, however, facing stiff opposition from activists.)
Added to those are the 11 hydropower service contracts approved by the DOE in 2014 for Palawan with a combined output of 131 MW. That should seal the future stability of power source in the home of the Underground River, the 7th Wonder of the World.
The New Bohol Panglao airport will be operational soon in the first quarter of 2018 and Bohol will have (no-kidding) an awful lot of trouble in its hands if Bohol does not find (pronto) a solution to the blackouts (inter-connected with Leyte) and the erection of a land-based power plant in their island as recommended by the NGCP.
It’s time our so-called “tourist havens” go back to basics. Stable, reliable power, first. The horse before the cart.
(Bingo Dejaresco, a former banker, is a financial consultant, media practitioner and political strategist. He is a Life Member of Finex but his views here are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of Finex. firstname.lastname@example.org)