No relief in sight on Mindanao power crisis

Published by rudy Date posted on March 23, 2010

MANILA, Philippines – With barely two months left before election time, the government still has not come up with concrete plans to solve the Mindanao power problem.

Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes admitted that the energy committee composed of public and private players have just met the other day to discuss options.

He said there are as yet no concrete steps that may be carried out to ease the power situation in the island.

“The situation in Mindanao continues to be serious. Power crisis remains to be serious. The Mindanao folks are experiencing five to seven hours of brownouts per day on the average. There are some areas that experience 18 to 24 brownouts a day,” he said.

“We met yesterday to discuss the power situation in Mindanao. Energy Committee, ERC, DOF and technical people and we received a briefing or a more formal proposal from the private sector. They briefed us on how the private sector intends to participate with government in addressing the Mindanao power crisis,” Reyes said, adding that what they have done so far is identify which areas need more focus.

“They have identified electric cooperatives they would want to address specifically. They have identified Zamboanga and South Cotabato areas. And we discussed the financial, regulatory, and technical aspects of it,” he said.

Reyes said they are exploring other options. “There’s got to be an exhaustive listing of all the options available to us and then we choose the best option,” he said.

He said the objective is to bring power as soon as possible to Mindanao. “And while doing this we got to assure that there is maximum transparency and accountability,” he added.

Reyes gave his assurance that the DOE will not allow individuals or entities to take advantage of the situation in Mindanao. “We want to be sure that this concern about people making money out of this deal will not happen. We will impose stringent control and monitoring measures to make that will not happen,” he said.

He said there will be checks and balances in every option that the government will consider.

One option is to do it directly through electric cooperatives (ECs), particularly those willing and able to do it, Reyes said.

“They may be the ones to import the generator sets themselves or it can be done through NEA.

For a longer-term solution, one option is to allow more power facilities to be built in Mindanao, Reyes said, adding that dependency on hydro power plants should be balanced with the entry of other forms of power sources such as coal and renewable energy.

San Miguel Corp. is proposing to build a 300-megawatt (MW) power facility in Mindanao and Conal Holdings Corp. is eyeing a 200-MW clean coal plant in Sarangani. –Donnabelle L. Gatdula (The Philippine Star)

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