Blackouts are getting to be a regular feature as this town's electric power supply suffered another disconnection on Thursday, the third in eight months, after the municipal government-operated Pantabangan Municipal Electric Services (PAMES) failed to pay its P1.7-million monthly bills First Gen Hydro Power Corp.(FGHPC).
FGHPC vice-president for business development of Dennis Gonzales announced the PAMES's disconnection due to its inability to pay the six-month accrued amount of P8,762,405.58.
Gonzales said their drastic action was the result of PAMES' failure to honor its commitment to remain current on its outstanding account by February 25.
We do not want PAMES' bills "to pile up" to such level that it would work against its operation and that it should settle at least their current account, he said.
The PAMES has an outstanding indebtedness of some P80 million with FGHPC which had accrued since 2007.
Last July 23, upon representation of FGHPC, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) cut off its electric service to PAMES, servicing the nine barangays of Fatima, East Poblacion, West Poblacion, Liberty, Villarica, Malbang, Marikit, Cadaclan, and Napon-napon, for alleged failure to pay its electric bills for the last five years.
Ten days later, according to town Mayor Romeo Borja Sr., the electricity was restored in the town after an hour-long dialogue between the groups of FGHPC senior vice president Victor Santos Jr., on the one hand, and then Interior and Local Government secretary Jesse Robredo, Nueva Ecija Gov. Aurelio Umali, and Mayor Borja, on the other side. The dialogue took place at the headquarters of the National Police Commission (Napolcom).
On Feb. 11, power was again cut off for failure of PAMES to make true to the negotiations earlier reached. Power was resumed again after 10 days.
Aware of the operations of the town's schools, Gonzales said FGHPC has installed four generator units to cushion the impact of the power outage in the classrooms.
Gonzales also said that three additional generators would be installed in the town to cushion whatever ill-effects the power cut-off may impose on the town.
The supposed P80 million indebtedness of Pames to FGHPC was negotiated by the late Interior secretary Robredo, which had gone down to P52,264,222.75.
However, the latest power disconnection showed the inability of PAMES to make true to its commitment to make its account current.