Power crisis looms in Mindanao

Published by rudy Date posted on December 14, 2009

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Mindanao will be in big trouble in the next five years if the shrinking of the reserve capacity of the Mindanao power grid remains unchecked.

“We have here a situation that clearly leads to a power crisis that would greatly affect the economy of Mindanao five years from now. Clearly, a power crisis looms in the south,” Mindanao Business Council chairman Vicente Lao said.

Lao said the power situation in the south has become critical so that business leaders and stakeholders have taken it upon themselves to find ways on how to effectively address the situation.

“What we are trying to avoid here is for the power situation in Mindanao not to reach an irreversible stage wherein there would no longer be anything left available and there would be no more resources,” Lao further said.

Spearheaded by the MBC and the Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry, power sector leaders, utilities, distributors as well as other key industry players gathered for a two-day Mindanao Power Summit at the Xavier Estates Sports and Country Club, to draw up an all-important Mindanao power agenda to ease the situation.

Energy Regulatory Commission chairperson Zenaida Ducut delivered government’s response to the points raised in the Mindanao power agenda presented to her at the same summit.

Participants agreed that government plays an important role in addressing the power crisis problem.

Davao Light and Power Co. executive vice president Manuel Orig noted that in the next five years there would be a power deficit equivalent to 484 megawatts on the island.

Orig explained that based on projections and given the prevailing standing capacity of 1,510 megawatts and with the average increase in power requirement in Mindanao of about six percent annually, the island would have a shortfall of 484 megawatts by 2014.

Orig likened the 484 megawatts to the combined power requirements of five key cities in Mindanao such as Zamboanga, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Butuan and Cotabato.

“If it is left unchecked, the entire Mindanao grid will be experiencing regular rotating brownouts as early as next year, especially with the coming in of additional new investments that are anticipated to further deplete the grid’s reserve capacity,” Lao said.

Business, Lao said, must take the lead in the campaign to avert power crisis in the south as the impact is expected to be heaviest on them.

“The situation will reach a critical state if we do not act fast and act now. We do not want to have a repetition of the power crisis in the early 90s where we acted too late and we did not have much choice of the available solutions but to avail of whatever was available at that time, regardless of the cost,” Lao said.

Participants also discussed issues such as ‘Creating an Enabling Environment for Investors in Power Generation’, ‘Addressing Governance Issues for Sufficient and Reliable Power’ and ‘Mainstreaming Sustainable Responsible Investments in the Power Industry’. –Edith R. Regalado (The Philippine Star)

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