ILOILO CITY – Around 2:19 PM on January 2, 2024, the entire islands of Panay and Guimaras, and some parts of Negros Occidental experienced a total power outage because all power plants in Panay Island went into shutdowns.

According to the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), there was a scheduled maintenance shutdown of PEDC Unit 3 (Iloilo City), generating the largest power load of 150MW. Meanwhile, PEDC Unit 1 tripped off, losing 83MW of power due to a “boiler feed pump issue”. Due to voltage imbalance, the PEDC Unit 2 (83MW) and the PCPC (Concepcion, Iloilo) with 135MW generation capacity, also tripped off followed by other smaller generation plants due to low power voltage. A total of 656MW of power was lost in a flash.

The NGCP was only able to fully restore all feeders in Panay Island and normalized transmissions on January 5, at around 12:34 PM, with 12 of the 13 power plants in full operations by almost 60%.

Billions worth of losses were recorded by different Local Government Units. Iloilo Province recorded the highest economic loss of around P3.7 billion. Iloilo City on the other hand recorded a loss of around P500 million per day. During the period of blackout, businesses were closed, classes were suspended, livelihoods were interrupted, communications were cut off, and many other impacts were registered by residents.

According to Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) – Panay, the hardest hit was from the micro, small, and medium enterprises especially those who rely solely on power to run their businesses like public markets and sidewalk vendors that sell meat and frozen products, small restaurant owners, and so on. Moreover, those who are in a work-from-home (WFH) setup also lost their income for three days.

Without power to turn on fans or air conditioning units inside their homes, many Ilonggos went to public plazas, settled beside coastal roads or along seawalls, or in malls and spent the day or even nights just to get by from the humid and hot conditions at that time. Others looked for open ground spaces and camped out of their houses to spend the night.

According to Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Trenas, the NGCP must be held accountable for the blackout.

To BAYAN-Panay, “The energy industry is highly deregulated (due to RA 9136 or the EPIRA Law) and it is clear in the case of the January 2-5 blackout that no one from the three levels of operations – generation, transmission, and distribution – would want to take the blame and be held accountable to the power outage that inconvenienced millions of Western Visayas residents”. BAYAN-Panay added that since the energy industry is privatized, “profit is the utmost priority of these companies and corporations”.

BAYAN-Panay calls to conduct a thorough, deep, and independent investigation on the January 2-5 Panay blackout and identify the companies that should be held accountable. Moreover, BAYAN-Panay also demands just compensation to those badly hurt by the power outage, especially MSMEs, and that Congress should reconsider and junk the EPIRA Law since deregulation has become the root cause of the problem, and nationalize the power industry instead./PT


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *