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Group seeks power failure probe

A group of electricity consumers wants the government to investigate the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines’ allegedly repeated failure to provide enough power in areas affected by typhoons. 

The private company in charge of operating the country’s state-owned power grid had failed to provide sufficient power during Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in 2013, Typhoon Hagupit (Ruby) in 2014 and the 2017 earthquake, the National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms, Inc. said in a statement on Friday. 

The consumer group said it had written Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi on Dec. 21 to complain about the company’s “inadequate, weak and grossly unreliable transmission system.” 

It also said it had sought an audit of the grid operator’s transmission system so the Energy department could determine the needed upgrades to make the country’s transmission system more resilient to natural disasters. 

“Similarly, we urge the Energy Regulatory Commission to conduct a regulatory audit of the funds it provided NGCP meant specifically for capital expenditures which cover the rehabilitation and upgrading of the nationwide transmission system,” group President Petronilo L. Ilagan said. 

Mr. Ilagan also said the Energy department should review the National Grid’s concession agreement with the National Transmission Co. He likewise urged the Joint Congressional Energy Commission (JCEC) to probe the National Grid’s franchise. 

Energy Undersecretary Felix William B. Fuentebella and National Grid spokesman Gregory L. Yu did not immediately reply to a text message and call, respectively seeking comment. 

Typhoon Rai, locally named Odette, toppled almost a hundred transmission lines and 800 power poles of the National Grid in the Visayas and Mindanao region, company officials told a news briefing on Dec. 29. The company had restored 81 transmission lines. — Marielle C. Lucenio 

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