Press Release
May 2, 2015

Pimentel blames government energy officials for daily outages in Mindanao

Senator Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III today described as outrageous the daily power outages that are crippling Mindanao as he blamed government energy officials for their abject failure to respond to the power supply problems that have troubled the region for nearly five years now.

Pimentel put the blame on the doorsteps of the energy department that he said has not gone beyond mere "band-aid solutions to the power woes" which have been made worse by a huge undersupply and the aging hydropower plants running low because of critical water level this hot summer.

"It's getting worse every day and it seems there is no solution in sight," he said. "And the problem is worse this summer because the low water level affects the operation of hydropower plants that account for more than 50 percent of Mindanao's total electricity needs."

Pimentel said energy officials should have introduced a well-defined and clear-cut policy a long time ago because the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) had already identified the chronic power shortages as the "most binding constraints" to Mindanao's economic growth and development.

But they have failed in their sworn duty, he said in a press statement, to solve the under-generation in Mindanao since 2010, adding this worsening situation has created mounting social and economic costs such as business slowdown and raising a major roadblock to the island's development.

Industry experts have identified a cocktail of solutions, starting with the rehabilitation of existing hydropower plants and the setting up of new generating sets. They also see the need to ensure reliability of transmission lines and secure the efficiency of power distributors to avert outages.

He decried that "our people in Mindanao continue to experience such horrendous interruptions of their power needs" yet the island, which is home to more than 25 million Filipinos and a major agricultural hub, is the main source of power supply.

"The situation calls for an immediate response. Not patch-up work nor false promises. The power outages are totally insufferable to our people," Pimentel said, adding that as early as 2013 Energy Sec. Jericho Petilla had already assured him that "by 2015 Mindanao will have stable power already."

The Mindanao senator said some foreign investors have initially shown interest in upgrading the existing power plants and building new generators, but complained of lack of clear government response and red tape in getting business permits and licenses.

Pimentel said the problem cannot wait because the continuing outages have already forced business to slow down, dislocated vital public services, annoyed millions of residents, and affected the island's burgeoning tourism potential.

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