The National Power Corporation (NPC) plans to build 10 new power plants in Palawan by 2023 to power other areas in the northern and southern parts, in addition to the existing 24 plants on both the island and the mainland.
NPC operates 24 small power utility group (SPUG) plants all over Palawan. 20 of which are on the island towns while 4 operates in the mainland including El Nido, San Vicente, Rizal and Taytay.
Engr. Larry Sabellina, Vice President for SPUG, stated that the quickest way to energize areas in Palawan, particularly remote barangays, is through diesel power, which is supplied to NPC to run its power plants.
“Next year, meron additional plants dito sa Palawan, sampu sa northern at sa southern Palawan. Yong mga kababayan natin na hindi pa talaga nakatikim ng kuryente sa buong buhay nila, mandato namin na mag-provide ng electricity. The fastest way talaga para magbigay ng kuryente ang mga island barangays natin is through diesel power plant,” he said.
The province of Palawan is isolated in the main grid that is why new power providers (NPP) provides power supply to Puerto Princesa to Brooke’s Point and Puerto Princesa to Roxas.
The other towns are energized by the NPC, he further explained. The NPC SPUG is mandated by Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) law to provide electricity not connected the main grid.
NPC will also upgrade the substations in Palawan, increasing Roxas’ capacity from five to 10 megawatts in 2023 and San Vicente’s capacity from five to 10 megawatts in 2024. Taytay and El Nido substations are currently being surveyed, he added. In Palawan, NPC operates 60 substations.
“Lahat ‘yan ay may terms of reference na, hinihintay na lang ang pera,” he said.
Sabellina, on the other hand, stated that correct payment of subsidies through the Universal Charge for Missionary Electrification (UCME) is one of the NPC’s operational problems as fuel prices rise. NPC’s base budget for diesel fuel per liter is P37, but it has been increased to around P80.
The average NPC subsidy to new power providers (NPP) across the country is P800 million per month, but this has increased to P1.5 billion per month attributed to the rise in fuel prices. The SPUGs rely on the subsidies generated throughout the country.
“Nabubuhay lang ang SPUG because of the subsidy. Hindi lang taga-Palawan at MIMAROPA ang tumutulong sa SPUG NPC na i-operate our power plants but all consumers all over the Philippines,” he said.