Mindanao Development Authority sees end to Mindanao power shortage

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DAVAO CITY, Philippines—The brownouts of up to nine hours plaguing Mindanao for weeks now will be solved soon but it will be temporary and quite costly, Malacañang’s arm in the south, the Mindanao Development Authority or Minda announced on Thursday.

The Department of Energy said that Mindanao is currently experiencing a deficit of 300 megawatts due to the rehabilitation of certain power plants and other factors affecting the operations of the hydro-power facilities in Bukidnon and Lanao.

Minda chair Luwalhati Antonino said to ease the suffering of Mindanaoans, at least three oil-fired generators will be commissioned starting next month as rehabilitation work on the Lanao facilities is carried out.

She said that the 59-year-old facility in Lanao has deteriorated and can produce only about 570 megawatts. The Lanao hydro system, made up of the Agus facilities, used to generate almost 1,000 megawatts when it was commissioned in 1953, she said.

The DOE said, however, that even if the hydro facilities resume normal operations, Mindanao will still have power supply deficit because existing power plants can produce only an estimated 1,181 megawatts while peak demand is expected to hit 1,484 megawatts this year.

The outages, which the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) has scheduled, have not spared North Cotabato, host of the Mindanao geothermal power plants.

Vincent Baguio, North Cotabato Electric Coop. (Cotelco) spokesperson, said that electric consumers in the province have to endure up to seven hours of no electricity each day even if the geothermal plants on Mt. Apo produce a total of 104 megawatts of power.

He said the power cooperative gets a daily allocation of only 16 megawatts from NGCP even if it actually needs 30 to 32 megawatts a day to satisfy demand and avoid power outages.

The power outages, according to officials in Kidapawan City, North Cotabato’s capital, showed that there was an urgent need to compel the National Power Corp. to allocate 25 percent of the power produced by the geothermal facilities to Cotelco.

Despite being the host, North Cotabato does not directly get power from the geothermal facilities because it is fed to the Mindanao grid, Kidapawan Councilor Lauro Taynan said.  This was contrary to the provisions of Republic Act 7638 or the Department of Energy Act of 1992, he said.

“Section 5 of RA 7638 has mandated the DOE to devise ways and means of giving direct benefit to the province, city, or municipality, especially the community and people affected, and equitable preferential benefit to the region that hosts the energy resource and/or the energy-generating facility, in this case Kidapawan City,” he said.

The Kidapawan government has filed a petition in a local court, asking it to compel the Napocor to comply with the law.

In General Santos City, officials said what consumers could do to ease the shortage is to cut down on power consumption.

General Santos City Mayor Darlene Custodio said major power consumers, or large companies, could use their generating sets and shift operations from peak load hours of 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. to the off-peak hours of 9 p.m. to 9 a.m.

Household consumers, she said, could also cut down on power usage by switching off either their refrigerators or air conditioners for three to four hours daily during peak load hours.

“By doing this, we will be able to save at least one megawatt daily, at the same time, cut down our expenses on electricity,” Custodio said.

The Minda chief said that the power situation will improve starting next month when the Iligan diesel power plant starts to operate with an initial output of 20 megawatts.

She said two other power plants—the 15-megawatt Mapalad diesel power plant being operated by the Mapalad Energy Generating Corp.; and the 15-megawatt bunker fuel Peaking Plant of the EEI Power Corp. —will add 30 megawatts of additional power to Mindanao when they start running.

A government source said Minda’s solution could prove to be expensive for consumers because of high petroleum prices.

Household consumers currently pay about P6 per kilowatt hour consumed but this could increase to over P10 per KwH because of the use of the oil-fired power plants, said the source, who requested anonymity.

Antonino said the Mindanao Power Monitoring Committee, co-chaired by Minda and DOE, is also conducting a resource mapping and assessment project for hydro and biomass resources, a project that is being funded by the United States Agency for International Development’s Climate Change and Clean Energy Project, to boost Mindanao’s power generating capacity.

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  • Ommm

    Kind of strange they always choose to “rehabilitate” these generators at the onset of summer, rather than in the rainy season when water is abundant…then they claim they can meet demand but its’ ” going to cost”……

  • Cool LahgotzMO

    This power supply problem in Mindanao has been lingering for years. Since when I was 5 yrs old (that was 30 yrs ago) this problem has been there already. I don’t understand why they can’t resolve this when they pretty well know what to do. I have the feeling this has been monopolized by greedy businessmen who have connections in the government. Ayaw solusyonan ng tama ang problema para mabenta ang mga power barges nila na kinakalawang na.

  • ovalboy

    Conspiracy theorist here in Mindanao points to Aboitiz/Alcantara group as the culprit in this mess. And local cooperatives including SOCOTECO here in South Cotabato and NGCP are willing conspirators (of course with the right price). Miss Amy Remo, the PR firm hired by Aboitiz/Alcantara do the rest of the dirty work. And Viola! just as the election is fast approaching Minda chair Lualhati Antonino completed the picture. Her daughter runs for re-election as Mayor of Gen. Santos City against a very rich opponent. She needs the moolah.

  • Kayang

    They never learn a thing… talking about a measly 50 megawatt to be added, as we have a shortage of over 300mw. Telling the peoplke a fantasy story about Agus 1-6, as if they were build in 1953, when only Agus one was built in that time. This way, they give the fault to aging equipment, something the y knew since years, but never did something about it. PNoy told last year during the energy summit in Davao a nice fairy tale about our not existing power problems and we won#t have shortages anymore, once the Pulangi River plant is back on the grid. Later in Mai Pulangi came back, but nothing has changed. And nothing will change in the next 10 years, if they are not starting now to build. But they have neither a plan nor a concept and so it will continue until aqll eternity.
    Would be nice, if our incompetent politicians would all resign and gave a chance to the new generation. Anyway it can’t ge worse.

  • randyaltarejos

    As to whose idea was it, the power failures that now hound Mindanao is a strategy to condition the minds of the people that there will be brown outs during the election process. Perhaps, what P-Noy can do is to craft a plan that will temporarily replace Napocor officials and employees, and even those manning the electric cooperatives, during the May 2013 elections, with another batch of employees from the Central Office. In this way, connivance between politicians and these Napocor and electric cooperative officials can be avoided. After the elections, they can go back to their old posts. The purpose of this is to cut the links between corrupt politicians who may want to disrupt the polls by ordering these Napocor officials to do what is needed to give them a chance to swtich ballot boxes when the lights are out.

  • Mamang Pulis

    A B O I T I Z.

  • Mamang Pulis

    maiba tayo–

    kung nagkataon yun MILF ay umabot ng Iligan at pinatakan ng mortar at pinaliparan ng RPG ang mga power plant doon…

    mabuti na lang may taga salag na iilan, at ang Kauswagan na lang sinunog nila.

    nakalimutan nyo na nga yun opsyal ng army na nagkatawag pa sa HQ na ma over run na sila.

  • YoungGen

    DOE’s shortsightedness and poor planning. Inefficiency. You are there for what then? No alibis. Ibalik nyo sweldo nyo, buti pa.

  • SFADS Power

    These power shortages always happen during election years. It has been going on for many election cycles. We need a good reporter to go check the record. If it is a non election year, very few power outages. If it is a election year, major blackouts daily.

    They will come up with excuses that they need to maintain the power facility, but why do they only want to maintain during the election cycle???

    When the power is out for 5 to 10 hours a day, so is the radio and tv stations. The candidates loose all the money they have spent on those mediums, as the people never get to see/hear the ad or debate, because the power is out. Very unfair and certainly a violation of Comlec. Comlec should demand a equal playing field, which includes making sure the power distribution is, at the least, equal for all areas. If they want to black out Mindanao, then also blackout the Visyas and Luzon on the same schedule. Keep it fair.

    Not to mention all the business that is hurt by these blackouts and the much higher potential for loss of human life

  • eric bernardo

    All this bragging about the exceptional growth in our economy is meaningless to us in Mindanao who suffer daily the consequences of power outages. It does not seem to take advance math to figure out power supply and demand – and be able to plan for it.

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