Power-short Mindanao may have to stagger work hours

Published by rudy Date posted on March 10, 2010

THE government will encourage companies in Mindanao, where power outages are happening daily, to shift their working hours at night when demand for electricity is lower, Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza said Tuesday.

That plan was one of four measures that Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes presented to President Gloria Arroyo in Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting to ease the power shortage in Mindanao, he said.

Reyes also suggested leasing generators to produce at least 160 megawatts of electricity, to have companies with their own generators share their excess load, and transfer a power barge in Luzon to Davao to produce an extra 200 megawatts.

Mendoza said Reyes had suggested shifting the working hours in Mindanao to 10 p.m. up to 4 a.m. to conserve electricity.

Mendoza made the statement even as the National Grid Corp. said the Visayas grid would lose 94 megawatts of electricity from the shutdown of two power plants, while Mindanao on Tuesday had a deficiency of about 700 megawatts.

Jesus Dureza, head of the Mindanao Development Authority, said Mindanao’s critical power shortage could lead Mrs. Arroyo to declare a state of calamity on the island.

“A power deficiency of 700 megawatts is devastating to the economy,” he said.

“Longer [blackouts] are now being experienced [in Mindanao], and the situation is expected to worsen.’’

Mendoza said an inter-agency meeting with Mindanao-based industrial power users and stakeholders would be held in Malacañang on Thursday to take up Reyes’ proposals.

“In two days there is going to be a decision,” he said.

“These are measures that can be implemented even without the approval of Congress.’’

Mrs. Arroyo on Monday said she would no longer call a special session of Congress to approve more generating capacity for the National Power Corp. and left it to Reyes to study leasing generators that could produce 160 megawatts of electricity for Mindanao.

The law says Congress must be consulted if Napocor wants to have extra capacity to produce more electricity, but deputy presidential spokesman Gary Olivar said Monday that both houses of Congress were not likely to produce a quorum to meet because most lawmakers were out campaigning for reelection. –Joyce Pangco Pañares, Manila Standard Today

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