Bukidnon facility saves Mindanao from more brownouts - for now | Inquirer News

Bukidnon facility saves Mindanao from more brownouts – for now

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—The increased capacity of the Agus-Pulangui Hydropower Complex in Bukidnon has saved Mindanao from power outages, which in recent months ran up to eight hours a day in some places, according to an official of the Mindanao Development Authority.

In fact, Mindanao has been enjoying about 50 to 150 megawatts (MW) of power surplus since the first week of May, Romeo Montenegro, Mindanao Development Authority (Minda) investment promotions and public affairs director said in a statement Friday.

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He said the current power surplus was expected to last until August, when Agus and other major power generating plants such as Steag Coal in Misamis Oriental shut down their operations for scheduled maintenance work. The shutdown would result in a deficit of about 150 MW and it will last until December, Montenegro added.

The erratic power supply in Mindanao has prompted power utilities to tap other sources, even if the move meant additional charges for consumers.

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For example, the Iligan Light and Power Inc. (ILPI) said that because it would be tapping additional electricity from such providers as the Alsons-owned Mapalad Power Corp., the former Iligan Diesel Power Plant (IDPP), and its sister company, the Mapalad Energy Generating Corp. (MEGC), the power rate in Iligan City would increase by about P3 per kilowatt hour.

But Dr. Melechie Ambalong, chair of the Lanao Power Consumers Federation (Lafocof), said during a second hearing conducted by the Energy Regulatory Commission on the proposed ILPI price hike that based on their calculation, the increase should  be only between P0.10 and P0.15 per kilowatt hour.

“The increase sought for is understandable but not as much as the P1 to P3 pesos in staggered implementation. That was why we wanted to know from the company’s representative how the proposed figures were arrived at,” Ambalong told reporters.

Ambalong said what he could not understand was why ILPI has started charging them for power supply that has yet to be delivered.

Cecile Lacosta, a housewife, also accused ILPI during the same hearing of imposing an increase in the rate if it had still to be approved. She showed her past and current bills, which showed an increase of P200.

Pressed for an answer during the hearing, the ILPI management admitted that they already started charging an additional P1.63 per kilowatt hour but claimed that consumers had been properly notified.

The notice was attached to electric bills, the company said, adding that it was just a provisional increase.

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But ERC hearing officer Rhett Roswell Mislang said the ERC had made it clear to ILPI that its approved provisional authority to increase rates could  take effect only after the company’s suppliers have started supplying the additional electricity.

“But if the ILPI is charging despite the absence of services from its suppliers, then it is violating the provisional authority given to them and anyone who has knowledge about this can file a complaint,” Mislang said.

In Mindanao areas served by electric cooperatives, consumers can also expect to pay more starting next month.

The Association of Mindanao Rural Electric Cooperatives (Amreco) announced its members were to commence the bidding for modular generator sets, which could be put to use in case of a drop in power supply from the National Power Corp. and independent power producers.

In the case of the Davao del Sur Electric Coop. alone, the increase could be about P3,  according to its manager, Godofredo Guya.

“This is better than experiencing brownouts,” Guya said.

Minda, Malacañang’s development arm in the south, said it has been pushing for the implementation of an Interruptible Load Program (ILP), which was expected to provide 100 MW of additional electricity to ordinary consumers.

Minda  said that under the ILP concept, malls, factories and industries would be encouraged to run their standby generator sets to help curb Mindanao’s power deficit.

“With ILP, participating firms can indirectly generate a total of about 100 MW of power that it would normally draw from the grid,” Minda said in a statement.

It added that about 100 to 200 MW more was also expected from “un-contracted and embedded capacities once the Interim Mindanao Electricity Market (Imem) will go on trial operation by August this year.”

Minda said the government was trying its best to ensure a stable power supply in Mindanao to entice more investors to propel the island’s economy.

Minda said it has also been pushing for the setting up of a one-stop processing and facilitation center to hasten the approval of renewable energy projects in Mindanao.

“The facility, which seeks to address bottlenecks in the approval of renewable energy projects, targets to process 100 pending applications for small hydro projects in Mindanao with an aggregate capacity of around 600MW of clean energy source,” the agency said.

“We recognized that a sizable chunk of new capacities being built to boost Mindanao’s power supply come from coal that provides reliable baseload and high capacity factor. But tapping renewable energy sources is a must to keep an ideal balance in the energy mix and mitigate environmental costs,” Montenegro added.

With a report from Allan Nawal, Inquirer Mindanao

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TAGS: Brownout, Bukidnon, Electricity, Hydropower, Mindanao, power outages
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