37 posts in this topic

Quote

Fresh call to go-easy on electricity use

electricity-620x264.jpg

 PANAMA’S POWER  supply is still fragile and the Government has again  called on the population to go easy with  electricity consumption, while the transmission authority, Etesa, continues efforts to regularize the supply.

The work is expected to be completed during the upcoming week.

The National Secretary of Energy, Victor Urrutia, said   on Friday, March 24, that the quality of the service is still fragile, while  work is  continuing on repairs and upgrades so that the capacity of the Panama substation where explosions took place  on Friday March  17 and Tuesday March 21 is  100 percent recovered.

“We want to ask everyone to moderate consumption until we have enough spare power to fully restore the system,” he said.

The two explosions plunged large sections of Panama and Colon into darkness, damaged  equipment in hospitals and public institutions,  and led to  the replacement of the head of the authority.

 

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/fresh-call-go-easy-electricity-use

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

Our power supply: worse than just exploding transformers

by Eric Jackson

Two major electrical outages resulting from transformer explosions at the Condado del Rey power routing station on March 17 and again on March 21 have had some far-reaching consequences and prompted some discomforting questions. The first outage left the Panama City – San Miguelito – Colon metro are without electricity for about 16 hours, and also turned out the lights in large parts of Nicaragua and most of Honduras. The second outage was not so severe but also blacked ou the whole metro area. Since then parts of the Interior that were not affected by the two explosions have been hit by a serious of shorter power outages, here in rural Cocle where most production on The Panama News happens sometimes several per day.

The problem is at ETESA, the state-owned power grid company that’s the one public remnant from the 1998 privatization of the old IRHE public electric company. ETESA buys power from private generators, distributes it across the country and via a Central American power grid connection to other countries, while the retail distribution and billing for electricity happens through another set of private power companies. The natural questions of how, why and who is responsible have arisen. The career of ETESA director Iván Barría Mock is the first and most noteworthy casualty. After a series of sometimes alarming public statements and admissions, he submitted his resignation. As of April 1 Óscar Rendoll, who has worked in the electrical industry for 41 years, including in the management of IRHE way back when, will take over as interim director.

ETESA.jpg

In the wake of the first and biggest power outage, ETESA announced that things were not entirely back to normal but they were working on it. People were advised to conserve electricity, particularly by not running air conditioners during peak hours, in the meantime. Then after the second outage the power grid company first put out a Twitter message that everything was back to normal, followed by a statement by Barría warning of possible new outages. In statements that followed Barría warned of electricity cutoffs in areas that use a lot more energy than most other places. That latter bit was a big political problem, as so many of Panama City’s downtown office towers are designed around air conditioning to the point that opening windows to allow natural ventilation is not a viable option, and as the neighborhoods where the country’s richest residents live are also the places where residential electricity consumption is the highest.

At the grassroots, and particularly in the social media, allegations began to be made by activists. With a little time lag, many of these began to appear in the mainstream media. These were tales of political intrigue, conflicts of interest and flat-out incompetence. The explanations from Barría made things worse and the silence of the ETESA board — Minister of Economy and Finance Dulcidio De La Guardia, Minister of the Presidency Francisco Sierra and National Energy Secretary Víctor Urrutia — did nothing to reassure anybody.

ETESA and its board, like so much of the Panamanian government, has been on a political patronage rotation. Every five years the top people and many in the lower ranks are fired. Some of the people who are let go will be among those few who know how to run more than a small part of the system. Most of the replacements will be political activists or relatives of politically important people, but some will be professionals in the field, and some will be old hands who lost their jobs in previous political patronage shuffles. But the returning old pros will come back to a different team, with a system that has been physically changed and that relies on a different set of business relationships.

Typically contracts are also rescinded, renegotiated or reassigned in every transition. Because of the extreme abuses of the Martinelli years, the transition at ETESA was all the more severe.

So who is Iván Barría? A competent engineer by looking at his resume. But also the brother of Aurelio Barría Mock, the executive vice president of Grupo Motta, the family-owned combine that’s the nation’s biggest private economic power. The Motta family sponsored the Independent Movement (MOVIN), the support of which was a key factor in Juan Carlos Varela’s election to the presidency. But lately MOVIN and President Varela have had a falling out over a number of issues and it has resulted in something of a government shuffle not caused by Varela reviewing situations and deciding to make changes but by people who are not Panameñista Party loyalists leaving posts in the current administration.

Among the contracts quickly rescinded once Barría took the helm of ETESA was the maintenance contract for the Condado del Rey power station. That was in 2014. However, no new maintenance contractor was employed and critics say that there were no proper adjustments to do that work in-house.

One of the Martinelli-era contracts that was revised, in 2015, was a provision of the deal with Odebrecht that allowed the company to negotiate and settle eminent domain claims for the long-planned ETESA Line 3. The corrupt Brazilian company stood to receive a percentage of all such settlements after an aggregate of $7 million was passed. The contract was modified to require ETESA approval of any settlement. It is said by critics that had Line 3 been in place the load on the transformers that exploded would not have been so great and the outages caused by their failure would not have been so extensive. But this power line has been tangled up in litigation, with lawyers taking their bites. (Have real estate speculators bought land along the route, based on inside information?) It’s a mess, with fingers being pointed in various directions for the slow progress.

Meanwhile almost all of the transformers and other equipment at the Condado del Rey facility are by ordinary ratings old, at 75 percent or more of their ordinary useful life expectancy. People can argue about whether that’s Panamanian maintenance culture or the habit of enterprises everywhere that live hand-to-mouth.

In any case, important organizations like the Panamanian Society of Engineers and Architects (SPIA) and the Chamber of Commerce have demanded that ETESA be put back in order, with various recommendations about how that should be done. Changes in the ETESA contracting system are suggested in most of the offered remedies.

One of the complaints that Barría had lodged, echoed by some of the business critics, is that ETESA has to go through government contracting procedures and these are too slow. But in 2015, a decision to move away from primary reliance on hydroelectric power in the direction of gas-fueled electricity generation was jammed through in just a few days. That contract, set to go into effect next year, was made without any real opportunity for environmentalists or others to object to its carbon emission and thus climate change implications. Competing bidders also complained about the almost nil evaluation process — three days to evaluate 27 offers. The winner there? Gas Natural del Atlantico (GNA) got a 10-year contract to generate 350 megawatts of power to be distributed through ETESA. And who is GSA? It’s a partnership between the US-based AES and Grupo Motta. At the time Iván Barría denied that there was any conflict of interest involved in his brother being VP of Grupo Motta.

Panama has no general conflict of interest law. National and international anti-corruption groups have been advocating one for many years.

President Varela has announced an audit of ETESA management decisions. Apart from that the National Public Services Authority (ASEP) says that it will hire an independent investigator to assign blame and recommend solutions in the wake of the power outages. And the president urges the public to conserve energy and show some patience in the several weeks that he expects it to take for the damages from the two blackouts to be repaired.

 

http://www.thepanamanews.com/

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have had fluctuating electrical power for WEEKS. I've called Rodny to report it; don't even remember how many times. Union Fenosa has so far done nothing about it. Or at least nothing to solve the problem. (Not long ago Rodny said they were having the same problem in their area, but today said it is much better.) My situation right now is not as bad, but that may be because there has been no wind for the last few days.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

5 Key Points to understand about how ASEP will investigate ETESA

March 28, 2017 - 3:37 pm

After the blackouts in the capital last week, the director of the Public Services Authority (ASEP), Roberto Meana, explained how it develops the research carried out by the entity to analyze and study the state of the national electrical system.

During an interview for the means of communication TVN, Meana detailed how the investigation goes to the National Dispatch Center of the Electric Transmission Company (Etesa).

1. The customer is always right:

Meana showed a figure about the research that holds the ASEP. And is that according to the results that have been achieved so far, a 90% of the cases of claims that have been presented have ended in favor of the customers of the electricity company.

Among the claims were reported damage to refrigerated food and appliances.

With respect to this, in the analysis of the technical condition of the networks that are found that are not reliable.

2. Condado del Rey is in the Spotlight

Among other data, it was learned that the information in the logs of the substation located in Condado del Rey is being analyzed to determine to what extent were the work of Etesa.

3. What happened with Odebrecht?:

With respect to the case of Odebrecht and the construction of the third line of electric transmission, Meana said the costs of this work must be approved after an exhaustive analysis to be carried out by the ASEP.

4. Where is the electricity sector in Panama:

Everything seems to indicate that the demand for electrical energy in Panama grows and grows. Roberto Meana stipulated that each year Panamanians demand between 6 and 7% more electricity.

With this data, he made an appeal to the public service companies to take the necessary precautions in the future.

5. The first report will be soon:

ASEP undertook to present the results of this research to Etesa within 30 days.

In the document, it is expected that the inclusion of the company acted as their prevention measures during power outages, studies of replacement and the demand in the country.

ASEP will soon announce how the intervention of Etesa will happen.

http://noticiaaldia.com.pa/2017/03/28/5-datos-clave-entender-va-la-investigacion-la-asep-etesa/

Edited by Keith Woolford
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

Smart phone addicts get two-hour therapy

omg-512x264.jpg
OMG

THE FALLOUT  from the recent power outages from The Electric Transmission Company (Etesa) continued on Tuesday March 28, with thousands of smart phone users having to face a life without chats.

Digicel and Cable and Wireless (C&W) had their own electrical problem and services were affected from 8 30 a.m. to 10 45 a.m.

The problem was in the  Rio Abajo telecommunications center which provides services to the provinces of Panama (North and East), Chiriquí, Darién, Bocas del Toro and Colón,

In a statement, C & W explained that last week they received a request from the commercial electricity distributor to continuously self-generate power with its backup plants because  of the transformer explosions on March 17 and 21 in the Etesa Panama substation.

Etesa has ordered 40 new transformers, but has urged customers to go easy on power use until they are in place.

 

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/smart-phone-addicts-get-two-hour-respite

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Keith Woolford said:

... director of the Public Services Authority (ASEP), Roberto Meana,

 

Does anyone know how to contact ASEP? Thanks.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
15 minutes ago, Dottie Atwater said:

Does anyone know how to contact ASEP? Thanks.

ASEP (Autoridad Nacional de los Servicios Públicos) has an office in David. That office is in the same building complex as the main MultiBank, which is across the street from the Gas Natural Fenosa service center. The telephone at that office is 775-9623/24, or 800-3683.

Be advised that you must speak Spanish at that office. They are friendly and will try Spanglish, but for detailed technical facts, you best have competent language resources at hand, meaning either yourself, a family member, or a translator.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks, Bud. Is MultiBank on the same street as the Cable & Wireless main office, The Box Shop, etc? (Obviously I don't know where many places in David are...only the places I go to regularly.)

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
40 minutes ago, Dottie Atwater said:

Thanks, Bud. Is MultiBank on the same street as the Cable & Wireless main office, The Box Shop, etc? (Obviously I don't know where many places in David are...only the places I go to regularly.)

Yupper. C&W's Mas Movil office (NOT the main C&W office) is directly across the street from MultiBank (and immediately next to the Gas Natural Fenosa office). I believe the Box Shop is off of that same street but a few blocks toward the north. (We have an account with the Box Shop, but every time we go there it is from the opposite direction). Catercorner (diagonally) from the MultiBank is a water equipment business, but I do not remember its name. This is all not very far from Hotel Nacional.

I got on Google Maps, and found the place. The streets are Calle Aristides Romero and Avenida Central. If you go to Google Maps, just look up "ASEP David Panama".

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From one of Eric Jackson's articles above:

The first outage left the Panama City – San Miguelito – Colon metro are without electricity for about 16 hours, and also turned out the lights in large parts of Nicaragua and most of Honduras.

I remember reading about additions to the grid which allowed increasing amounts of electrical power to be sold to the rest of Central America.  The opposition to new hydro projects may play a part in the future production.  Government involvement always adds a level of transparency, NOT.

Then there's the new Metro line planned across the canal.  I haven't found any data on electrical usage by the Metro system but with air conditioned stations, electronic surveillance, and fare kioskis the electrical consumption must be considerable.  Just fixing a few transformers at the substation doesn't look like a long term solution.

jim

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Power blackout probe opened

Posted on May 2, 2017 in Panama

ADMINISTRATIVE  proceedings have been opened  against the electric transmission company Etesa following explosions at the substation in Condado del Rey in  March.

The  announcement came from Roberto Meana administrator of   The National Public Services Authority (ASEP) in a press conference on Tuesday May 2.

Meana  said that, following reviews, it was determined that the necessary preventive tasks were not carried out to avoid these situations.

The explosions knocked out power to thousands of customers.

http://www.newsroompanama.com/news/panama/power-blackout-probe-opened?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+newsroompanama+(Newsroom+Panama)

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now