House probe into rotational brownouts in Luzon sought

House probe into rotational brownouts in Luzon sought

MANILA – A lawmaker at the House of Representatives on Wednesday called for a congressional inquiry into the rotational brownouts being experienced in Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon.

In a resolution, Quezon City Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo said sufficient electricity supply is vital as the country is continuously implementing the national rollout of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines, which require refrigeration at varying temperatures.

“The country cannot afford the spoilage of these vaccines arising from lack of electricity, considering that the Covid-19 situation now calls for a more aggressive vaccination drive given the alarming surge in new coronavirus infection cases recently,” she said.

Castelo said the ongoing power interruptions also affect millions of students and teachers who conduct their classes online, as well as businesses, including those whose employees are on work-from-home arrangement.

“Considering that the country is still in the summer season and parts of Metro Manila and Luzon still log high temperatures daily, rotational brownouts will just worsen the inconvenience brought about by heat and may even cause potential health risks such as heat stroke and cramps,” she added.

Castelo said the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) started placing the Luzon grid on red and yellow alerts last weekend due to low electricity reserves and supply amid high demand brought about by the summer heat.

The NGCP, she said, was forced to implement manual load dropping (MLD), under which power supply to Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon is shut off for a few hours on a rotational basis.

Castelo said brownouts are happening despite the assurance of the Department of Energy during the hearing of the Joint Congressional Power Commission last April that it does not see any “demand-driven energy shortage” during the summer season.

Energy officials have claimed that the power outages have been caused by the planned and unplanned maintenance shutdowns of several power plants, and by the failure of some generators to deliver their contracted capacity.

Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya told reporters that the agency has reminded local government units (LGUs) to secure an uninterruptible power supply in cold storage facilities of Covid-19 vaccines.

“At this time of pandemic, vaccines are more valuable than gold and therefore contingency plans should be implanted soonest to mitigate the rotational brownouts being implemented by the NGCP,” Malaya said. Filane Mikee Cervantes / PNA – northboundasia.com