The strict implementation of the “Anti-Obstruction of Power Lines Act” passed in 2019 will help solve the frequent power blackouts in the Palawan Electric Cooperative (PALECO) franchise area, as cooperative officials say the problem of vegetation disrupting power lines is a major cause of Palawan’s power woes.
Jocelyn Dasco of the Technical Services Department said during the fourth quarter press conference Thursday that RA 11361, which was enacted as law in 2019, will eliminate obstructions from distribution lines of the electric cooperative up to transmission lines.
“Siguro nakita ng mga mambabatas natin na kahit sa ibang lugar, sa assessment na ginawa nila ay talagang nakita nila na major cause ng power interruption ay ‘yong vegetation talaga at other obstruction sa power line. Itong batas ay hindi lang sa distribution ni PALECO, hanggang transmission para ma-ensure na tuloy-tuloy ang daloy ng kuryente,” Dasco said.
“Hopefully, with our policies, with this law ay sana ma-zero out na namin ‘yong interruption due to vegetation,” she said.
Dasco said that RA 11361 will ensure the “uninterrupted conveyance of electricity” from generating plants to end-users.
The law will also protect the integrity and reliability of the country’s transmission, sub-transmission, and distribution systems by keeping the land beneath, the air spaces surrounding, and the area traversed by power lines clear of dangerous obstructions, she further explained.
It prohibits planting activities or any developments within the Power Line Corridor (PLC) of the electric cooperative even the conduct of hazardous activities.
“Iyong power line corridor natin ay three meters sa both side ng kable. Pino-prohibit na magtanim, mag-construct or magtayo ng any improvement malapit sa linya kung nauna na ang linya namin,” she said.
“Pag-conduct o makikita natin ‘yong gumagawa ng mga kalsada natin na may times talaga na kapag hindi sila nakipag-coordinate sa amin, sila rin ‘yong nagko-cause ng interruption. Meron na rin ‘yang kaakibat na violation kapag nag-conduct sila, pwede naman sila mag-request sa amin ng power interruption for the specific area. Gina-grant namin ‘yon, sinasabayan lang namin ng line maintenance,” she added.
She said building officials of the Local Government Units should also require building owners who will be undertaking construction or maintenance activities surrounding, adjacent or proximate to the PLC to coordinate with the concerned power line operator prior to the issuance of building permit.
It also prohibits the refusal of the owner for the electric cooperative crew to enter within the property if there will be line maintenance to conduct.
“Bawal na rin i-refuse ‘yong mga empleyado ng PALECO, halimbawa may gagawin kaming maintenance, may cases din na ayaw pumayag,” she said.
Violators of the law will face a penalty of arresto mayor or a fine of P50,000 or both for the first offense; prision correccional or P100,000 fine or both for the second offense; and prision mayor or P200,000 fine or both for the third offense.
If the offenses are committed with an electric cooperative officer and local building official who issued building permits will face one degree higher than the prescribed penalties. Penalty of dismissal will also be given to the latter.
“Itong isang nakita ko na maganda. Makakatulong ito sa Office of the Local Building Official, usually kasi national building code lang kapag nag-i-inspection sila ng mga setback. Ngayon mas maganda na iko-consider na rin nila ‘yong power lines namin,” she said.
Amendment of policies
Dasco said PALECO also amended some policies based on rules given by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), such as Policy 6-5 Meter Inspection and Testing; Policy 6-15 Service Charges for Transfer/Relocation of Meters and/or re-routing of service drop wires and replacement of meter; Policy 6-46 Billing Adjustment/Recovery for Erroneous or Defective Meter; and Policy 6-9 Contracting Line Clearing with Barangay Captains.
“Kung makikita niyo yong interval ng period ng amendment, although, 1982 to 2020, ngayon lang uli siya na-review. Pero on the passage of IPIRA law halos lahat ng rules IPIRA, iyon ang in-implement namin. In-adopt na rin namin ‘yong provisions na nakasaad sa IPIRA law,” she said.
The amendment in Meter Inspection and Testing is to improve the accuracy of reading electric energy consumption of member-consumer-owners (MCOs) wherein meters shall be inspected and tested two years after installation and two years thereafter to ensure their accuracy.
From P10.00 in 1976, the testing fee was also increased to P375.00 in 2020 for meter testing requests of MCOs for more than once every two years.
She further explained that the amendment in Service Charges for Transfer/Relocation of Meters and/or re-routing of service drop wires and replacement of meter will establish uniform charges for the transfer of kilowatt-hour (kWh) meters, re-routing of service drop wires, and replacement of meters.
The MCO shall provide the required materials and necessary right-of-way for the relocation of meter and/or re-routing of service drop wires and pay a service charge of P525.00.
While the service charge for the replacement of the meter is P375.00 and the MCO shall bear the replacement cost in case of loss or damage due to their fault.
Policy 6-46 was amended with an aim to adjust the billing or recover the amount of the unregistered energy consumption from the erroneous or defective in-service meters. PALECO will determine first the highly vegetated areas and will count the span between posts as the basis for rate.
Contracted barangays who will exert effort will be given some bonuses by the electric cooperative, she added.
“Ito ‘yong isang bago namin Contracting Line Clearing with Barangay Captains, adopted na ‘yan ng Board of Directors natin nitong November, objective talaga namin dito ay ma-minimize yong power outages na sanhi ay vegetation. Although dito sa main office ay may line cleaning crew pero limited din and manpower based sa area coverage,” she said.
“Halimbawa ay may kakontrata kaming barangay at nagkaroon ng interruption due to vegetation, may penalty din ‘yon na P40 per span. Kung walang interruption sa nasakupan nila na area, upon evaluation ay pwede magkaroon ng monthly bonus na P2,000 iyong barangay,” she added.