“No more Brownouts in Guimaras?” Was some reporter over at the Panay News attempting to get their name entered into a “Tokhang” drop box? “Operation Tokhang” is the Philippine National Police’s campaign against illegal drugs.
Is this some cruel sick joke?
The public is encouraged to drop names of suspected drug users into these boxes. The boxes are set up in police stations all throughout Western Visayas, the region of the Philippines where nearby Iloilo and our island province of Guimaras are located.
My first thought was that this was a sick, twisted prank perpetuated by some wacky Filipino who thought this was April Fool’s Day.
Sure, I know that is the middle of November, but remember, “Filipino Time” here is practiced as a sort of national religion, just after Catholicism.
So when I read that the Guimaras Electric Cooperative (Guimelco) was on the brink of rehabilitating its ancient power lines, I was dumbfounded.
The Geckos did it
Guimeleco, whose management has blamed Guimaras’ past power outages on geckos and heavy vegetation, was finally attempting to address a major infrastructure issue that has plagued Guimarasons for decades.
The project aims to address frequent power failures in the island province, according to Guimaras Governor Samuel Gumarin.
Who’s Paying for the Improvements?
But here’s the rub: Guimelco will be securing a P100-million loan, 20 million US Dollars, for the rehabilitation. Who’s going to cover that loan? The consumers?
Guimelco already has the highest kilowatt per hour rate of any province in the Philippines. The Php to kWh Residential rates this year, 2017, have run from 10.39 pesos up to 12.35 pesos a month. That’s according to the Guimelco Official Website.
I’ve sent an email to Guimelco’s Consumer Welfare Desk asking if the consumers will be footing the bill for this loan. Let’s see if I get a reply.
Project Starts January 2018
The project is to begin in January 2018 and will hopefully be completed by the start of next year’s Mango Festival, Manggahan.
The governor said Guimelco is also poised to boost its power supply, citing rising demands due to new businesses in the province.
Guimelco serves 98 barangays in five municipalities of Guimaras – Jordan, Buenavista, Nueva Valencia, San Lorenzo, and Sibunag.
Guimelco became operational on April 1983 and from then on provided electric service to its member consumers.
Governor Gumarin said barangays will be helping the electric cooperative in clearing operations targeting heavy vegetation weighing down power lines.
No word on whether or not a campaign will be started to stuff geckos into “Tokhang” drop boxes or merely submit their names.
Where does all the power go?
While Guimelco is the sole electric power distribution utility in Guimaras, the island province does have 27 power-generating windmills. Where does all that generated power go? Not to Guimaras or its consumers. It’s sold to outside vendors on nearby Panay Island.
As a distribution utility with rural electrification as its main thrust, Guimelco’s website described the electric cooperative as a “non-profit, non- stock, non-political and service-oriented organization and owned by the people it serves.”
I’ve recorded over 200 brownouts in the past year amounting to outages of over 155 hours
But look, I’m going to try and remain hopeful. Any improvement on the services provided from Guimelco would be appreciated. I only hope that the cost of these improvements aren’t put on the backs of the consumers.