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The Palawan Electric Cooperative (Paleco) slammed the Department of Energy (DOE) for not issuing an endorsement which forced the electric cooperative to start the Competitive Selection Process (CSP) to find a power supplier for a 20-megawatt power supply in the Palawan mainland grid on its own.
In a press briefing, Paleco board chair Jeffrey Y. Tan-Endriga said that a series of follow-up letters had been sent to the DOE requesting to expedite the process but the agency had no response.
“Weekly yan nagpapadala kami kaya well documented ang ating action ginawa.”
Expediting the DOE endorsement or approving the Terms of Reference (TOR) is very important to proceed to the next step because the one-year extension of the old power supply agreement between Paleco and Delta P for the 13.5-megawatt energy contract will expire on April 2020.
It means a lot of power interruptions will be expected next year if the CSP will start now and Paleco will not get another Independent Power Provider (IPP) because there will be a lack of power supply in Puerto Princesa City and some municipalities of Palawan.
He added that their basis in pursuing the CSP is the Anti-Red Tape Law [enacted into law to improve efficiency in the delivery of government services to the public by reducing bureaucratic red tape, preventing graft and corruption] even though the DOE has no endorsement.
“Ang papel ng DOE is just an endorsement. Ang magbibigay ng notice to proceed is the National Electrification Administration (NEA) na sila talaga ang right entity na magsasabi na proceed na kayo, not DOE,” he explained.
Endriga further stated that during the administration of Energy Secretary Alberto Cusi, he [Cusi] obliged to get endorsement from their office before conducting the CSP.
The inter-agency meeting was also conducted last May 10, 2019 by the National Power Corporation(NPC), Paleco, NEA and DOE to explain the TOR, which is the basis of the Power Supply Procurement Plan (BSPP) and the Distribution Development Plan (DDP) that are already incorporated in the long-term development plan of the cooperative and Paleco justified it.
Endriga also explained that due to the slow-moving process, they submitted a new TOR for adding 5 megawatts because the 20 megawatt was their 2018 power supply procurement plan.
In the new TOR, they justified that they need 5 megawatts because of additional demand and replacement of the old power supply contract of Delta P.
Because of this, another inter-agency meeting was held last September 11, 2019, which Endriga attended but nothing was done.
“During that time ako mismo ang nag-attend na rito kasi sabi ko pabalik-balik na lang, meron naman silang 5 years power supply development plan na sinabmit ng ating kooperatiba. Every electric cooperative submitted a power supply development plan. So bakit kailangan mo pang magtanong o tatanungin mo pa sa coop [Cooperative] kung gaano kalaki ang capacity, well in fact meron na silang kopya,” he pointed out.
Last November 2019, after the inter-agency meeting, they are hoping that within two weeks the government agencies will release a notice to proceed but they are wondering because they sent a series of follow-ups but did not receive any.
With this, Endriga decided to personally show up in the office of the DOE in Manila to follow up but he was shocked because the agency wanted to change it again.
“Sabi ko sa kanila, kung gusto niyong baguhin dapat kayo na lang, hindi na tayo nag-ano (inter-agency meeting) medyo na pikon na rin talaga ako. Kasi sabi ko kung kayo rin pala ang masusunod and not the inter-agency eh bakit pa tayo nag-conduct nun. Kayo lang din pala ang masusunod kayo na lang dapat ang nagconduct ng CSP at tatanggapain na lang namin sa Palawan. Yun ang medyo pabiro kong salita na may punto sa kanila pero sabi nyo nga wala rin tayong magagawa kung gusto nyo i-black and white nyo na lang ang gusto nyong ipagawa sa amin pero until now wala pa rin silang ginagawa that’s the time na nag-decide talaga ang board, noong nireport ko sa ating board meeting na medyo naano sila [the Board of Directors) sumama ang loob,” Endriga lamented.
In that Board meeting, he said that the Board of Directors asked if there was a violation if they will not follow the process because if they followed the process, the cooperative will be put into an uncertain situation.
“So tinanong naming ang ating legal counsel may basis naman tayo especially yung Ease of Doing Business [R.A. 11032 or The Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018 is an act that aims to streamline the current systems and procedures of government services] and the same time ‘yung ARTA Law,” he recounted.
He said they also consulted the party-list representatives like the Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives (APEC).
He also added that the Paleco board of directors will not allow inexperienced IPPs because the cooperative needs the expertise of power suppliers especially within the Small Power Utilities Group (SPUG) area like Palawan rather than to get a new company without experience which is very risky.
According to him, they wanted to remove the provision in the TOR requiring the power supplier to have at least five (5) years of experience in power generation.
“Gusto nila ipaalis yun. Sabi ko bakit; ay dito malalaman kung expert ang kakontrata mo or not. Hindi raw. Dapat raw kahit baguhan puwede raw, eh sabi ko kung ganyan parang ginawa tayong guinea pig nyan,” he stated.
Because of their actions, Endriga said there is a possibility that they will be suspended or the cooperative will face sanctions by the DOE but he insisted that they risked their positions to proceed with the CSP instead of facing a worse power situation in Palawan.
While doing the CSP process for the new IPP, Paleco applied for Certification of Exemption to get a power supplier but it is allowed for one year only so that the cooperative should look for IPP to supply the 20 MW hybrid power supply or combination of renewable and conventional energy. The additional 5 MW they requested was not approved.
Aside from the Palawan Main Grid, if the DOE will not give endorsement for the municipality of El Nido, Paleco will proceed with the bidding process in January 2020 to look for an IPP because of the long process including the approval of Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) on the Power Supply Agreement between the winning bidder and Paleco.
Meanwhile, based on the Timeline of Paleco for the 20 MW main grid, the Bidder’s Submission of Pre-qualification Eligibility Documents will be on December 26, 2019 to January 2, 2020.
The Declaration of Pre-qualified Bidders will be on January 6, 2020, the declaration of the winning Bidder thru TPBAC resolution will be on March 13, 2020, while the issuance of Notice of Award and signing of Power Supply Agreement and Subsidy Agreement will be on March 20, and April 2, 2020 respectively.
Endriga confirmed that there are four IPPs that submitted their initial CSP documents.