Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Solve power woes, Boracay folk, traders urge DOE

Businessmen say unstable electricity supply creates ‘undue stress’ on tourism
By: Nestor P. Burgos Jr. 12:40 AM January 14, 2017

IT’S DARK IN PARADISE Boracay Island, backdropped by the mountains of Malay town in Aklan province, is suffering from daily power outages that disrupt business and burden residents and visitors in this top tourist destination. —ARNOLD ALMACEN
ILOILO CITY—The Department of Energy (DOE) has ordered a “rapid appraisal” of the power situation on Boracay Island in Aklan province after businessmen and residents complained of the frequent power interruptions in the popular tourist destination.
Energy Assistant Secretary Robert Uy said the DOE has ordered the National Electrification Administration  to come up with solutions to improve electricity services on the island after a group of businessmen said the power interruptions have hampered productivity and inconvenienced tourists.
The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) in Boracay, in a letter to DOE, local officials and President Duterte, appealed for help to address the situation.
“Due to constant tripping of [power] lines and low voltage, power fluctuations and interruptions and the overall substandard electricity supply, breakdowns in appliances and equipment, both household and commercial, result in costly personal and capital expenditures,” Jove Schrottmann, PCCI-Boracay president, said in a letter to the President.

Disrupting business
He said the power interruptions have also disrupted business operations.
“It has resulted in undue stress on the island’s tourism industry,” he said.
Schrottmann said the frequent outages bring about a “collective feeling of injustice” among residents and members of the business community, who devoted their lives marketing the island as a top tourist destination.
“It’s getting worse,” said Djila Winebrenner, a member of PCCI-Boracay.
“There are power interruptions daily in certain areas, lasting from 20 to 40 minutes. At times, it is up to several hours,” said Winebrenner, who has been living on the island in the last 12 years.
She said residents reported that their air-conditioning units, television sets and computers broke down due to the unstable power supply.
Exasperated, residents took to social media, through the Facebook page “Concerned Akelco (Aklan Electric Cooperative) Consumers,” to air their frustrations as the situation continued even on Christmas Day and the start of the year.
“Is this a war zone or a tourist destination?” a resident asked.
Alexis Regalado, general manager of Akelco, which distributes power to the 1,032-hectare island, attributed the outages to the transfer of electric posts standing on private lots and  to fruit bats and geckos coming in contact with electric wires. He said strong wind has also been causing power lines to trip.

Improving supply
He said Akelco plans to install a bigger distribution line connecting Barangay Yapak, at the northern end of the island, to stabilize supply up to its southern tip. But he said the
P14-million project is still at its procurement stage.
Power demand in Boracay has reached a high of 26 megawatts a day as tourists continue to flock to the island famed for its powdery white sand and crystal clear waters.
Tourist arrivals on the island posted a new high of 1.72 million last year, an increase of 11 percent from the 1.56 million in 2015, according to records of the Malay municipal tourism office and Department of Tourism.

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