MANILA, Philippines—Millions of people in Mindanao, who have been grappling with power interruptions lasting for hours every day, must accept the reality of paying more for electricity or having none at all, President Benigno Aquino III said Tuesday.
The President said the government planned to tap diesel-powered generating plants to beef up the power supply in the region between now and 2015.
Aquino conceded that the mix of hydro and diesel would inevitably bring the power rates up.
“The power rates will go up in Mindanao because the choice is a higher power rate or no power. And many of those we’ve spoken to understood the necessity for higher rates, and they’re amenable to this, instead of no power at all,’’ he told reporters at a Pasay City bus terminal.
In the face of rotating brownouts in Mindanao, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla has presented a plan to Malacañang that entails procuring “modular’’ diesel-powered plants as a “stop-gap measure’’ until 2015, when the coal-fired plants come on stream, the President said.
“These diesel power plants are seen as the quickest (to acquire); they can be set up as early as six months and the maximum is one year,’’ Aquino said.
The idea, he said, was for the government to help the distribution utilities to purchase the generating sets.
“By 2015, we expect the problem to largely go away. By that time we’ll have good surplus; that’s the time the power plants go on line,’’ he said. “About 300 megawatts of coal-fired power plants will come on line by 2015, and there will be more after that up to 2017.’’
Aquino again ruled out resorting to emergency powers to address the Mindanao power shortage, which has been aggravated by maintenance work on some power facilities.
For about a month now, Misamis Occidental, Lanao del Norte and Iligan City, among other areas, have been experiencing power interruptions lasting two to six hours up to two times a day.
The Misamis Occidental 2 Electric Cooperative Inc. said the outages were caused by deficiencies in the power supply from the Agus and Pulangi hydroelectricity generation plants, which are operated by the National Power Corp.
Mindanao has at present a power shortfall of 294 megawatts. The demand is at 1,157 MW while the actual supply is only 863 MW.
Officials and industry players have blamed the power failure on the lack of power infrastructure in the region.
The President assured Mindanao of adequate power supply during the May 13 national and local elections.
“There is an assurance that elections will not be affected. There will be power for all of these precincts so that they can transmit all of the results of the elections,’’ he said.