Aquino: Higher Mindanao power rates inevitableBy TJ Burgonio
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Already grappling with “rotating” brownouts every day, millions of Mindanao residents will eventually have to pay more for their electricity consumption, President Benigno Aquino III said on Tuesday.
The President said the government might tap diesel-powered generating plants to boost the power supply in the region to address the power deficiency between now and 2015.
Mr. Aquino, however, conceded that the mix of hydro and diesel would inevitably increase power rates.
“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 on Tuesday.
In the face of the rotating brownouts in Mindanao, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla presented a plan to Malacañang that entails procuring “modular” diesel-powered plants as a “stop-gap measure” until 2015 when the coal-fired plants kick in, the President said.
“These diesel power plants are seen as the quickest—they can be set up in as early as six months and the maximum is one year,” Mr. Aquino said.
The idea, he said, was for the government to help the distribution utilities 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 online,” he said. “About 300 megawatts of coal-fired power plants will come online by 2015, and there will be more after that up to 2017.”
Mr. Aquino ruled out anew resorting to emergency powers to address the outages.
For about a month now, Misamis Occidental, Lanao del Norte and Iligan City, among others, have been experiencing two rounds of brownouts daily, with each round lasting two to six hours.
The Misamis Occidental 2 Electric Cooperative Inc. said the outages were caused by power supply deficiencies from the Agus and Pulangi hydroelectric plants operated by the National Power Corp. (Napocor).
Officials, however, said the long brownouts in Mindanao were an offshoot of Napocor’s action to conserve power for the midterm elections.
At present, Mindanao has 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 outages on the lack of power infrastructure in the region.
The President, however, assured Mindanao of an adequate supply during the May 13 elections.
“There is an assurance that the elections will not be affected. There will be power for all of the precincts so they can transmit the results of the elections,” he said.