Probe sought to address Mindanao power woes

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ILIGAN CITY, Philippines—The recurrence of crippling power crisis in Mindanao, coupled with the same issues as in the past, has re-ignited calls for reforms among distribution utilities and activists.

The current power crisis follows that of 2012, at exactly the same period of the year. A more serious one faced Mindanao in 2010 amid a long dry spell that began in October 2009.

But just like last year, the distribution utility Iligan Light and Power Inc. (ILPI), “is pushing for a higher allocation from (the) Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation.”

PSALM controls the National Power Corp. (Napocor) which operates the Agus and Pulangi hydroelectric power generating complexes, and contracts power supply from private generators for allocation to distribution utilities like ILPI and electric cooperatives.

In a news release, ILPI chief operations officer Rolando Linaac said the request to PSALM is pursued “through the help of the Iligan City government.”

Linaac said the city hosts Agus 5, 6 and 7 which accounts for a total dependable capacity of 167 megawatts.

Peak demand in Iligan is at 37 MW, but for the period 2013 to 2016, Linaac said, its average allocation from PSALM is only 15.7 MW” which is “equivalent to only 42 percent of its peak requirement.”

Because of this supply shortfall, brownouts in Iligan last four to five hours a day. For purposes of rotating the outages, ILPI divided the city into three zones. The outages are scheduled 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m..

Last year, ILPI’s contracted capacity with PSALM is 39 MW. However, due to the reduced generation output of the capacities under its control, PSALM only provided it 27 MW.

Similar calls for preferential treatment for host localities of power plants were made last year by Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato.

That time, the Cotabato Electric Cooperative (Cotelco) even threatened to defy the load curtailment directive of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines.

To maintain the technical integrity of the grid, the Philippine Grid Code empowers NGCP, as grid operator, to impose load shedding among distribution utilities when supply from power generators falls short of demand.

Lanao del Norte’s Baloi town hosts Agus 4 which has three generating units, each with an installed capacity of 52.7 MW. North Cotabato hosts the Mt. Apo geothermal plant which has two generating units, each with an installed capacity of 54.2 MW.

At present, the Lanao del Norte Electric Cooperative (Laneco) is allocated 7.4 MW of power. Its requirement is 13 MW, hence, brownouts of up to 12 hours in the province.

As the situation worsened, activists have called for a renewed investigation into allegedly “shadowy incidents that plunged Mindanao into darkness.”

Lucita Gonzales, secretary-general of the nongovernment group Power Alternative Agenda for Mindanao (Palag-Mindanao), lamented that the issues

hounding the recent crisis as well as the suggested solutions are nothing new.

“We are just saddened that the interest of consumers, especially for low-cost electricity, are not factored into the discussion by policymakers for solutions,” Gonzales stressed.

Last month, just like last year, government has urged Mindanao power consumers to brace for high-cost electricity if they want to lick the problem of brownouts.

Gonzales said that one area requiring probe is “the true reason for the reduced generation output of the Agus and Pulangi hydro capacities.”

She called on employees of the Napocor’s Mindanao Generation Office (MinGen) to “fulfill their patriotic duty by revealing to the public the true state of the Agus and Pulangi operations.”

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  • ovalboy

    This is the kind of news/write ups I would like to see more often in this paper. Not the kind that Miss Amy Remo (Aboitiz/Alcantara PR woman) churns out.
    Journalists based in Mindanao should “fulfill their patriotic duty by revealing to the public the true state of the Agus and Pulangi operation” .

    • Loggnat

      These are the kind of information that the public has the need and the right to know. The passage of the FOI bill will make it possible and make it mandatory that the public had access to this information. There are too many fingers in these electric power supply pie and it seems like it has turned into a milking cow for those money hungry and corrupt government bureaucrats managing it.

  • Ako_Hiking

    Reforms reforms reforms….when has the President and Malacanang done any reforms that would help and benefit the poor? Think about it…none. Even a bill to help the poor was vetoed by Aquino.

    • Simplify1

      Your magna carta has already been determined to be nothing but a wish list that will only choke the Philippines if passed. Take a hike! Better still, be industrious, creative and contribute to society!

      • Ako_Hiking

        You just gave some more excuses for Aquino to not help the poor. His Administration has not done much for the poor since taking office in 2010 and by the vetoing of the bill clearly not much help to come.

      • Simplify1

        People (not only politicians) who detest the magna carta believes that the bill is impossible to fulfill. The only way to fulfill this is for government to borrow money to fund the project… this will only create more lazy people. People will no longer strive to be middle class to afford a home given that a poor person can easily own one…. Once we have more lazier people, national production will decrease and we will find ourselves not able to pay our external loans and interests….. now, once the monetary banks stop lending money and increase interests rates, who will be the most affected?? Mga pobre uli ang unang mawawalan ng pagkain sa mesa…. I hope you understand this..

  • wawa2172

    I guess its now time for Mindanaoan to take a stand on the power crises issue. The NGCP and PSALM are making a fool out of the people of Mindanao following the order of the national government to reduce the allocation given to cooperative like ILPI and Laneco. The result is rotating brownouts at nag papahirap sa negosyo at buhay nang mga tao. PNoy added that the only option is for the people of Mindanao is to bite the bullet that is to agree to increase the rate for the power to be restored. Its election time so let us give the government a dose of their own medicine. If the national government are subsidizing the MRT and LRT operation for the Manilans why can’t they restore the power needed by the cooperatives for the people of Mindanao.

    • Loggnat

      The electric cooperative around the power generators should have the priority in the electric power produced and maybe they can pool their assets and resources to buy or at least get majority stock ownership of those power generators if they were privatized. The government should get their finger out of these power generating facilities and sell them to those electric cooperative in the area it is located.

  • Simplify1

    In general, the economy of the Philippines today has already stabilized and our peso relatively strong. The Government should undertake build operate and transfer (BOTs) licenses with independent power producers similar to what Pres Ramos did in the 90’s… Ramos’ unique program succeeded in supplying the Phil power shortage back then. The only problem that arose from these contracts then was that our peso was not stable, resulting to losses due to conversion differences… If this kind of initiative is adopted today in Mindanao, the problem will simply disappear in less than 2 years with enough space for growth….

    The only caveat with the BOT is that PNoy remain true to his primary agenda of anti corruption, otherwise, these BOTs will become cash cows of the pinoy pasaways amongst us!

    • Crazy_horse101010

      its not just mindanao ive seen 5 outages in one day and 9 in one week some lasting from 8 in the morning until 7 at night and i dont live there. ive had outages this week and my voltage when dont have outage my voltage rarely makes it to 200 volts. ive had to buy a lot of vrs and other items

      • Simplify1

        same response…need for BOTs initiated by ramos

      • Crazy_horse101010

        yeah most coops here are ran by families in america the coops are run by a board who is elected and the hire a manager with experience in the power systems. in seven years ive never seen an election here there if there is a profit it is given back to the consumer like a dividend. still waiting for my check. most of the coops there have a tenth of the consumers but there rates are mich higher.. here they dont buy equipment all they do is change out good poles. there is only one transformer for 5 or 6 blocks and if your voltage is to low you have to buy a transformer. they need a law here like they have in america where if anything burns up with high or low voltage the company has to replace it like tvs etc. only time they dont if its weather related

      • Simplify1

        Ramos’ BOT is unique and I’m not talking about coops. BOTs are not coops… In the BOT Scheme, the government licenses a private company to build the power infrastracture, upon completion, the private company will operate the system and collect payments from its customer, upon collecting the agreed amount over the years, the facility is then transferred to the government and the government will continue its operation…. if you notice in this scheme, the government does not dole out any money but the facility is completed and the power shortage is averted… President Ramos was successful in these projects, the only downfall was since all contracts are in dollars, we had to pay in dollars also, right? But since the peso was taking a dive at that time, the contracts became more expensive….

  • Ommm

    Same old excuses but in reality we have a government that leaves it’s citizens in the dark… let’s face it… any modern society requires power 24/7, brownouts are a failure and cannot be accepted.

    Consider the fact power in the Philippines cost 5x as much as in N. America, although the generation methods are quite similar. Yes, we must grease the hand of numerous corrupt appointed “officials” for the luxury of keeping a light bulb burning….It seems our governments’ “war on corruption” doesn’t dare address or confront a system mired in corruption and ineptness… after all they only have one job to do…keep the lights burning, yet for all the mega profits they earn they just can’t seem to do only that.

    Corruption, Pnoy, is also defined as inaction or could be defined as “Noy Noying”……

    • Crazy_horse101010

      i worked in america for 40 years for power companies. the wages are many times higher equipment is a lot more modern and newer line contruction is a lot more expensive because for one thing they have a 3 wire secondary system not 2 sub station equipment is mostly solid state they use 3 transformer where here you use one they spend millions of dollar on safey every year. im on a coop that has never heard that word they dont even wear hard hats. this coop has more outages in one day than most americans see in their life because they dont buy equipment that can prevent them. we have a saying in america safety first custnomer second company third here they forgot 1 and 2. and most coops in america are much smaller but the rates are cheaper. on the other side of the island where their office is they rarely have outages and their office looks like a palace. on a god day i have 200 volts because of no transformers. i went to their office but i would have been talking to a tree.

      • suroy_suroy

        Hahaha you could have written this words 30 years ago, it was the same. 180-200 V in the day time and 280 V or even more in the nighttime, yes. Here nothing is changing only the faces of corrupt people. But what do you expect from people when a brown-out occurs and they all scream “oooh” and when electricity comes back the applaude.

  • Cobra

    The only permanent solution to solve power crisis in the Phils is to allow foreign companies to operate & own their business 100%.It will also imperative that this companies are given at least 99 yrs lease on land that they will need.The hydro electric systems in Mindanao were left to rot with very minimal maintenance which led to shortages ,couple this with the denuded forests that supplies the all important water.If Taiwan,Korea,Thailand & other countries can produce electricity cheaper than Phils it makes you wonder what the problem is.It’s the people running these utilities,give them the boot with no excuses.The govt & the present providers even got the nerve to tell people that they need to pay more to get better service,can you imagine henry sy (sm) telling people that he will have to increase his prices because he needs to put up another mall somewhere.The galls of some people!

  • PepingCo

    The amount of daily losses that businessmen and companies are experiencing in Mindanao is much more serious than plunder such that it is enough to charge PNoy of culpability and impeach him out of office.

    • Loggnat

      The local power cooperative should be lining up in the courts to file charges against PSALM and NGCP for breach of contract. These government offices are not living up to the contracts that they signed and they should be penalize for doing so.

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