Low power imperials Mindanao

Published by rudy Date posted on February 18, 2010

A prolonged dry spell is expected to further worsen the already critical power supply in southern Mindanao, a power firm executive said on Wednesday.

Joseph Nocos, Conal Holdings Corp. vice president for business development, cited falling water levels at Lake Lanao in Lanao del Sur province that fuels the Agus hydroelectric power complex.

“The country’s weather [bureau] Pagasa has said that the country will experience a long dry spell during the summer. This will affect [adversely] generating capacities of hydropower plants in Mindanao,” Nocos said.

As of February 9, the water level in Lake Lanao was only 19 centimeters above critical level. The lake is 699.34 meters above sea level and its critical point is 699.15 meters above sea level.

In Bukidnon province, where the Pulangi hydropower plant is located, National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) officials said that the plant was running at less than 50 percent of its capacity because of low water levels. A source said that heavy river silt has prevented the plant from operating at full capacity.

Mindanao’s power supply is heavily reliant on the Agus and Pulangi hydro facilities, which make up nearly half of its generating capacity.

Because of low water levels in Agus and Pulangi, power supply in Mindanao continued to be critical with the NGCP reporting available capacity at 1,021 megawatts against peak load of 1,180 megawatts, or a deficit of 159 megawatts as of Wednesday.

The tight power situation has already forced a number of electricity distribution utilities in Mindanao to curtail their loads through daily rotating brownouts.

Sarangani, General Santos City and some parts of South Cotabato are experiencing twice-a-day one-hour brownouts because of a 43-megawatt deficit.

Davao City, according to reports, is having a power supply gap of between 20 and 30 megawatts.

In the Zamboanga area, three-hour brownouts have been reported.

But even if water levels start rising again, the Conal Holdings official said that brownouts would still hit Mindanao because of insufficient generating capacity.

“Even if the water levels at the Agus complex and the Pulangi hydro plant are brought back to normal, we will still experience power outages in Mindanao, especially in the South,” Nocos said.

Energy officials have repeatedly warned that unless new power plants are commissioned in the next three years, Mindanao could plunge into deep power-supply crises worse than the situation in the early 1990s.

Last year, Archimedes Flores, Aboitiz Energy Solutions general manager, said that reserve capacity in Mindanao would fall to 7.5 percent, or 84 megawatts short of its 212-megawatt requirement. It will further fall to 1.4 percent in 2011, or a likely shortage of 174 megawatts of power supply.

Flores added that power demand on the island is projected to increase by at least 5.76 percent annually starting this year.

This increase, according to him, could strain the reserve capacity of the island’s generating plants and could lead to power outages.

To help maintain a stable power supply situation in the country, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) is pushing for compensating end-users of electricity who opt to be disconnected from a grid.

Zenaida Cruz Ducut, ERC chairman, said that the proposed Interruptible Load Program (ILP) is a form of demand-side management strategy that aims to bridge the gap between supply and demand for electricity in areas suffering from power shortage because of insufficient generating capacity.

“The ILP is an effective program that will help balance the supply and demand for electricity. It will help eliminate serious supply shortfalls that can adversely affect the socioeconomic well-being of affected communities,” she added.

Under the ILP, a distribution utility and a participating customer are allowed to enter into an agreement wherein the customer may be requested to be fully “deloaded”—by disconnecting or partly deloading—from the grid for a period of time.

The utility shall pay the participating customer a deloading compensation, an amount representing the incremental cost incurred in the process. The amount paid to the participating customer shall be recovered from all the customers of the distribution utility as part of the total cost of power in the computation of the monthly generation rate.

This strategy has been implemented by the Visayan Electric Co. (Veco) in its franchise area in Cebu since last year to alleviate the power situation there. The island-province has been experiencing power supply shortfalls because of insufficient power-generating capacity, transmission constraints and growing demand.

Ducut said that the regulator expects the load curtailment program implemented by Veco to also ease the supply situation in other areas in the country with power-supply deficiency.

To help fast-track implementation of the Interruptible Load Program, the ERC recently came up with the proposed pulse, which will be applicable to all utilities nationwide, to provide guidelines and streamline the process of requesting deloading, activating the ILP, dispatching protocol, documenting and billing and compensating.

Draft rules will be posted on the ERC website (www.erc.gov.ph) to gather comments from stakeholders of the electric-power industry and will be subsequently subjected to expository hearing. This will be followed by public consultations to gather stakeholder inputs that will help expedite promulgation.

“It is hoped that the stakeholders of the electric-power industry will comment on the draft rules and actively participate in the public consultations in order to expedite [the rules’] finalization,” Ducut said.

Month – Workers’ month

“Hot for workers rights!”


Solidarity with CTU Myanmar,
trade unions around the world,
for democracy in Myanmar,
with the daily protests of
people in Myanmar against
the military coup and
continuing oppression.


Accept National Unity Government
(NUG) of Myanmar.
Reject Military!

#WearMask #WashHands

Time to support & empower survivors.
Time to spark a global conversation.
Time for #GenerationEquality to #orangetheworld!
Trade Union Solidarity Campaigns
Get Email from NTUC
Article Categories