Longer power blackouts hit harder on businesses

May. 08, 2014

By Myrah G. Acuzar

Davao Today intern

DAVAO CITY – The longer blackouts imposed lately going into the supposed rainy season has raised anxiety to a wider sector of business, especially in this city that has not been spared anymore of the energy crisis creeping across Mindanao.

From buying more ice to preserve meat in the abattoirs and paying workers of full salary for undertime work, to unmet quota and failure to meet delivery commitments, both big and small businesses have turned more vocal in their anxiety over the next months now that the government weather agency confirmed of a coming dry spell throughout the rest of the year.

“We cannot use power failure as a reason not to deliver on time,” said business leader Bonifacio Tan.

But he admitted difficulty on how to make both ends meet, between delivery commitment and forced stoppage of work at the onset of scheduled four-hour brownouts on peak periods. This is aside from expected loss incurred on lost working hours.

This may likely turn discussions and plans into more plausible move to retrench workers and cut down on production to offset lost working hours.

“Aside from the power failure, increased cost of labor and low productivity, the power cost is very high because the distributors have to buy from suppliers who are running their diesel-fired power generators,” he said.

Commercial establishments that market food, provide professional and technical assistance and money transactions also voiced out concern over the brownouts to extend beyond the hot summer months.

“Nihinay g’yud ang among sales tungod kay ngitngit (Sales are down because it’s dark),” said Agdao public market meat stall owner Edita Arandia.

She said it affected 25 percent of her income per day.

To comply with the City Veterinarian’s Office’s protocol on meat preservation, Arandia said they have to buy ice now to preserve meat cuts for at least three hours to prevent spoilage. This has doubled their expenses to buy more kilos of dry ice as alternative to the more expensive refrigeration.

The M Lhuillier chain of pawnshops express disappointment over the rotating brownouts and its impact on moving money transactions.

“We could not reach the target number of transactions per day,” said assistant branch manager John Ray E. Buena Oro. he said the delays caused by the brownouts have hampered their operations expected from a service-providing establishment.

“Hassle kaayo kay muadto pa mi sa uban pang branches para makakobra unya ang uban kay nagbrownout pud {it’s a hassle because we have to go to other branches to collect, only to find them also inoperational because of the brownout),” a regular client of a pawnshop and money remittance agency said.

Computer shops and computer-aided businesses like Midtown Printing Press, are not spared, with printing productions often grinding to a halt.

“Dako g’yud ang impact [sa brownout] kung naa’y urgent na tapuson (The effect is significant especially if we have a deadline to meet),” said Annie Yoshioka, supervisor of graphics work at Midtown.

She said their workers tend to extend overtime to cope with backlogs.

Sudden brownouts also caused further difficulties as files crash and business deals have to be delayed, creating frustrations.

“We are so much affected with it because summer time used to be our peak season. And it is likely the time when schools print through us their yearbooks,” said publishing manager Ma. Sonia Corena.

For a printing press, she rated the power brownout in the level nine of impediment, in a scale of 1-10.

The City Council committee on energy (COE) has promoted alternative energy sources to tap, such as portable solar panels.

“For individual homes we can promote it to lessen the use of energy. But for the big businesses, ‘yun talaga ang malaking problema,” said Councilor Leonardo Avila III, the committee vice chairperson.

He said the committee and the Aboitiz-owned Davao Light and Power Co. announced they would give incentives to households that would use alternative energy sources.

The Davao Light has suggested that businesses use generator sets to temporarily solve the power problem.

“We cannot pressure the government,” Mr. Tan said when asked how they will mobilize business sectors to pressure the government regarding the power crisis in Mindanao.

Tan said the the business sector in Mindanao have long asked the government energy agencies to conduct dredging on silted dams and repair the power plants.

“It is up to DOF if they will finance for the dredging program,” he said.

The hydroelectric generators that will be used to solve power scarcity are under Public Sector Asset and Liability Management (PSALM) under Department of Finance (DOF).  These power plants periodically conk out, or have to undergo periodic repairs. causing unstable load supply to the Mindanao grid. (davaotoday.com)



comments powered by Disqus