Safety checks on power barges sought

Published July 12, 2020, 2:42 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

Anakalusugan partylist Rep. Mike Defensor is prodding authorities to conduct  routine safety checks on all floating power plants owned by private electricity producers.

“The Department of Energy (DOE) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) should perform extensive and periodic safety checks on all power barges, many of which are rather old and run-down,” Defensor, a one-time Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, said in a statement Sunday.

He made the call on the heels of a power barge spill last week that practically spoiled Iloilo City’s coastline.

“Many of the power barges – including the vessel that accidentally discharged some 268,000 liters of heavy fuel into the waters of Iloilo Strait – were actually acquired by private investors from the state-owned Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) years ago,” Defensor said.

The solon said that while he recognizes the need for these highly-mobile power stations to address recurring electricity shortages in some parts of the country, authorities must see to it that they are properly maintained.

“These barged-mounted power plants have to be properly maintained and put under constant safety inspection, considering that they carry large volumes of potential environmental contaminants all the time,” Defensor said.

He said AC Energy Corp. has three power barges, each with a generating capacity of 24 megawatts (MW), including the one at Barangay Barrio Obrero that caused the July 3 diesel spill in the waters off Iloilo.

Aboitiz Power Corp. runs six power barges with a combined generating capacity of 431 MW.

Two of the flat-bottomed boats are moored in Barangay San Roque, Maco, Davao de Oro and  Barangay Sta. Ana, Nasipit, Agusan del Norte. The four others are anchored at the Navotas City Fishport in Navotas City.

SPC Power Corp. operates a 32-MW power barge berthed in Barangay Tapal, Ubay, Bohol.