Bantayan's power woes seen to end

·3 min read

THE Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has issued a resolution allowing the Bantayan Island Electric Cooperative Inc. (Banelco) to source its power from any supplier to ensure unhampered power supply, ending the rotational brownouts that had plagued residents of Bantayan Island.

Banelco, Bantayan Island’s power distributor, announced Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, that Isla Norte Energy Corp. (Inec) was now the power generator supplying power to Banelco.

Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia herself had appealed to the ERC last Oct. 21 to provisionally allow a new power generator to operate in Bantayan Island to solve the power outages in the area.

She said brownouts could damage appliances and affect the tourism industry of the island.

Banelco has a franchise from the National Electrification Administration to provide power in the three municipalities of Bantayan, Madridejos and Santa Fe on Bantayan Island in northern Cebu.

Resolution

Last Nov. 4, the ERC issued a resolution directing Banelco to “source out power from any supplier which it deems fit, to ensure the continuous and unhampered supply of power within its franchise area” using as generation rate for the power to be secured from the supplier, the latest approved rate by the ERC in its Power Supply Agreement (PSA).

Penned by ERC chairperson and chief executive officer Agnes Devanadera in Pasig City, the resolution comes amid the application for the approval of the PSA and the total cost of generation rate (TCGR) between Banelco and Isla Norte Energy Corp., which is currently subject to an ongoing hearing.

With legal issues surrounding the power supply agreement still unresolved, the ERC said for the difference between the previously approved TCGR in Banelco’s existing PSA and Subsidized-Approved Generation Rate (SAGR), Banelco may recover the subsidy from the ERC-approved Universal Charge Missionary Electrification.

The directive is good for 90 days from its issuance.

Partnership

Inec, a partnership between Vivant Energy Corp. and Gigawatt Power Inc., has built a 23.3-megawatt diesel power plant that will provide the long-term power requirement of the island. It was awarded a 15-year contract to supply Banelco following a successful competitive selection process.

But Inec’s testing and commissioning ended last Oct. 18, and power supply then reverted solely to Banelco’s then power supplier, Bantayan Island Power Corp. (Bipcor).

This resulted in a “power crisis,” according to Banelco, which cited Bipcor’s inability to provide it with an adequate supply of power.

Banelco requires an average of 7.5 megawatts daily to supply Bantayan island with electricity.

But Banelco said rotational brownouts had to be conducted, especially when the equipment of Bipcor broke down.

From Oct. 19 to Nov. 3, Banelco had to frequently request Wellington Farms, Banelco’s largest consumer located in Tugas, Madridejos town and Mojon, Bantayan, to suspend its business operations whenever it was short on power supply.

In a statement on its Facebook page Thursday, Banelco said Inec had provided a lot of help in making up for the shortfall in power supply on the island from the time Banelco had not yet entered into an interim power supply agreement until the completion of its contract on emergency power supply and the end of the testing and commissioning of Inec’s plant.

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