Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian urged stiffer penalties against those found guilty of mismanaging power-related issues resulting in economic losses.
“I propose that, as part of our legislative output, we peg the penalty commensurate with the economic losses experienced by affected areas due to negligence and incompetence,” Gatchalian said.
He made the statement at a recent hearing conducted by the Senate Committee on Energy regarding the power outage that Western Visayas endured for a few days early in the year, apparently involving the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines’ (NGCP) and its failure to properly address the issue at hand.
“It’s not worth their while,” said Gatchalian, referring to the maximum penalty of PHP50 million that the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) imposes for any violation of the country’s grid code.
According to Gatchalian, the NGCP will take issues seriously if stiffer penalties are imposed for violations. He noted that combined economic losses from the power outage incurred by both Iloilo province and Iloilo City have reportedly reached PHP5.7 billion.
“Clearly, it wasn’t in a normal state anymore because there was already a deficiency in power supply when a power plant went down at past 12 noon on January 2. The demand went up, creating an imbalance in the grid. When you have a negative margin, that will definitely disrupt the grid,” he said. At the time of the disruption, the region had a deficiency of 55 megawatts or 15 percent of the total requirement which should have prompted NGCP to take appropriate actions by following the protocol prescribed by the grid code, he added.
The lawmaker said that suitable actions by the NGCP could have prevented a widespread power interruption in the region.
ERC Chairperson Monalisa Dimalanta agreed because she said the area was already in an emergency or alert state. Gatchalian also mentioned that NGCP should have conducted manual load droppings to reduce demand which could have helped prevent the massive blackout in Western Visayas.