Power consumers welcome Senate probe into frequent power outage in Samal Island 

Power consumers in the Island Garden City of Samal welcomed the investigation into the alleged failure of the Northern Davao Electric Cooperative (NORDECO) to provide adequate services, which they said, resulted in frequent power outages that affected their livelihood and way of life.

The Senate probe, through the  Committee on Energy, will start on May 24 following the commitment of Senator Raffy Tulfo to look into the complaints of the power consumers. Senators Win Gatchalian, Joel Villanueva and Grace Poe will be present during the inquiry.

“We have been experiencing a series of energy crisis. After Occidental Mindoro and Panay Island, now it is Samal Island,” said Tulfo.

As far as he is concerned, Tulfo said the root cause of the power failure in Samal Island is NORDECO’s alleged antiquated submarine cable, which he discovered was installed in the 1980s or 43 years ago, and could no longer cover the entire capacity of the island.

On average, the power outage in the area reportedly lasts up seven to eight hours during peak load and two to three hours during off peak, daily, a problem which was raised since last year.

The power supply problem in the Samal Island, a known tourist spot, has been affecting the local tourism in the area as reported by a local government official. 

And now that Samal Island is frequented by tourists, its peak demand went up from three megawatts (MW) to 9MW due to the rise of establishment such as resorts, restaurants and markets.

It can be noted that Samal Island is connected to the Pantukan Grid via a submarine cable owned by NORDECO, formerly known as Davao del Norte Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Daneco). 

Currently, Samal is connected to mainland via a 1-kilometer submarine cable to Davao City. The cable is owned by NORDECO but it has not upgraded that submarine cable since the 1980s. The submarine cable is installed in 1980s or 43 years ago, and it can no longer cover the entire capacity of the island. 

Instead, NORDECO is proposing to build a 15-kilometer submarine cable costing 1.5 Billion Pesos to connect Samal and Pantukan town, with one of its officials saying that it will solve the power woes in the Samal Island. 

Presently, the Mindoro Grid Corporation (MGC) can provide 6.962MW electricity in the island while NORDECO can provide 3MW. In total, there is only 6.12MW supply in the island with a demand of 9MW.

The power supply problem, and the alleged high power rate as Nordeco has been charging P3 to P4 more compared to its neighboring areas, has prompted local officials to seek for measures to stabilize the electricity supply in the area.

In seeking for investigation, Tulfo earlier underscored the need to ensure that there would be a provision in the Power Supply Agreement (PSA) requiring replacement power, through modular gensets, for all power providers to ensure reliable electric service.

He added that the said agreement should also include the requirement for “causer’s pay” clause so the consumers will not be required to pay for gensets. In turn, the party with mistakes are the ones responsible to pay for power service.