Mindanao malls, factories to shut down for 3 days

Published by rudy Date posted on April 8, 2010

MANILA, Philippines – Malls and industries in Mindanao may have to temporarily shut down or at least slow down operations so that enough power could be harnessed and saved to ensure uninterrupted electricity supply during the election period.

Energy Secretary Jose Ibazeta said the plan forms part of a three-pronged program that includes boosting the capacity of existing power plants and tapping private generators.

He said the program is expected to generate roughly 600 megawatts (MW) or enough to ensure power from May 9 to May 11. The country’s first automated elections are scheduled on May 10.

The temporary slowdown or shutdown of some establishments alone could contribute an additional 100 MW.

“We will probably have the industrial or the factory sites not operating on a full-level basis. Also the malls, the big users of (power), will not be operating on full stead,” Ibazeta said.

“What we want to make sure is that all the election precincts will have power to conduct the elections peacefully and properly,” he said.

Dam operators, meanwhile, will release more water to boost power supply. Most of Mindanao’s power plants are hydroelectric facilities.

The Energy chief said the current power shortfall in the region is about 500 MW and rotating blackouts average five to eight hours a day.

“With regard to the short-term solution in terms of the elections, at this point, we are very confident that within the period of three days (May) 9, 10 and 11, we will have power in Mindanao,” Ibazeta told a news briefing.

“We are addressing this issue by basically firing up the plants in Iligan, we’re looking at some embedded generators… we can fire up another 461 MW by the 9th and 11th which should address the issue on elections,” he said.

“Bear in mind also that election day is a holiday or period of rest, so the requirement of the generators to furnish industries will not be at its peak. So we should have enough supply for the elections,” he said.

He said dam operators are currently building up water reserves so that there would be enough to spin the turbines of hydroelectric plants like those in Agus River in Lanao del Sur and Pulangi River in Bukidnon.

“So the water will be released during the three days of the election. In the meantime, we’re trying to maintain the current brownout schedules and have been making sure that water will not just be brought out,” Ibazeta said.

He said power shortages are felt more in highly populated areas like in Cagayan de Oro and Davao.

He said the power plant in Iligan, which currently operates at 30 MW, is being rehabilitated to raise its capacity by 10 MW by May.

“The bringing up of the power of Iligan is permanent. The temporary one is when we release the water for now. But within three months – a dam basically takes about three months to really bring it up to its levels – we will slowly be building up the water in Mindanao, in Lanao, so that from July to December, we can bring back the original power (levels),” he said.

He said the Southern Philippines Power Corp. would contribute 5 MW.

He said Mindanaoans should be more open to coal-fired and other types of power plants due to increasingly erratic climate patterns.

He said current technology has made coal-fired power plants much cleaner.

Ibazeta said residential areas are the hardest hit in Mindanao since most industries have their own generators.

For the medium term, there are plans to rehabilitate more power plants in Mindanao and provide cooperatives with generator sets.

For the long term, steps are being made to attract investors to the power sector.

He also said the recent blackouts in Luzon and the Visayas were due to maintenance work on some major plants. –Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star)

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