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Mindanao to suffer longer brownouts

/ 12:21 AM March 21, 2014

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—The shortage of power in Mindanao following the Feb. 27 massive outage worsened with many areas now experiencing seven hours or more of daily power interruption.

Electric cooperative executives said the main reason is declining supply from the Mindanao grid due to synchronized repairs of hydropower facilities.

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The repairs started even as Steag’s State Power Inc.’s (SPI) two coal-fired power generators in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental, remain to be off-grid after suffering technical problems nearly a month ago.

In Davao del Sur, the Davao del Sur Electric Cooperative said in an advisory that to prevent the breakdown of businesses, it is implementing seven-hour power outages in installments of one to two hours.

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In Zamboanga City, George Ledesma, manager of the Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative, said the supply it was getting from the Mindanao grid has significantly dropped during the past days, which forced the cooperative to resort to rotating brownouts.

Ledesma confirmed that the shortage is being caused by preventive maintenance works on the Pulangi Hydroelectric Power Plant in Bukidnon.

From a normal supply of 255 megawatts being delivered by the Pulangi Power Plant, its current capacity dropped to only 90 MW.

He said even the Mapalad Power Corp. in Iligan, one of two independent power producers supplying electricity to Zamboanga City, has reduced its output.

One of the two generator sets of Mapalad is under maintenance for 19 days.

Officials of the National Power Corp. and Mapalad Corp. were not immediately available to comment.

Earlier, energy officials and the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines blamed the trouble being experienced by SPI, which accounts for a fifth of Mindanao’s power supply, for the power woes besetting Mindanao.

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But SPI officials said they were surprised at being blamed for the shortage.

Dr. Bodo Goerlich, SPI president and chief executive officer, admitted that prior to the massive power outage, the output of its coal-fired plants in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental, has been reduced.

The reduced output of SPI, however, “is not expected to cause a cascading failure,” said Goerlich.

Energy Undersecretary Raul Aguilos said by May, SPI would be able to supply some 100 MW and by June, its 210-MW capacity would have been fully restored.

“At least, from today until June 4, rest assured that we can already normalize the situation prior to the Feb. 27 blackout,” Aguilos said during a recent meeting between the Department of Energy and other officials in the power industry.

The Inquirer has obtained a copy of the transcript of the meeting, which was held in Manila. Allan Nawal, Liza Jocson, Julie Alipala and Germelina Lacorte, Inquirer Mindanao

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