Reyes backs bid for state of emergency due to power crisis

March 1, 2010 11:58 pm 

By Marie S. Neri

MANILA, March 1 —Energy Secretary Angelo T. Reyes said placing the entire country under a state of emergency due to the power shortages would require Congressional approval.

According to Reyes while he recommended to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to put the Mindanao grid under state of emergency, it would not be easy to place the two other grids –the Visayas and Luzon grids — in the same category.

He said that giving President Arroyo the emergency power to resolve the power crisis would require Congressional approval.

”Congress will still have the say on what the President can and cannot do,” Reyes said.

Last Sunday, Reyes submitted his report to the President recommending the Mindanao grid to be placed under state of emergency to resolve the power crisis there.

The Energy chief said that the power supply situation in Mindanao had worsened as a result of reduced capability by hydro electric power plants.

The Agus plants power generation dropped by 80 percent and the Pulangui plants by 90 percent due to very low water inflow to the reservoir and non-availability of the 35-MW Iligan Diesel Power Plant.

Reyes said “Mindanao, which is heavily reliant on hydro electric power generation, is currently experiencing reduced energy generation from the hydro electric power plants.”

Hydro electric power plants generate 53 percent of the total energy generation mix in the region but this was reduced to 26 percent last week and further dropped to 20 percent during the weekend.

Reyes' recommendation invokes Section 71 (Electric Power Crisis Provision) of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) of 2001, which provides that “upon the determination by the President of an imminent shortage of the supply of electricity, Congress may authorize, through joint resolution, the establishment of additional generating capacity under such terms and conditions as it may approve.”

Reyes also cited the reports of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) president, Dr. Walter W. Brown, that the system demand in the Mindanao grid was expected to reach 1,221 megawatts (MWs) next week and a negative system reserve.

As of Feb. 27, the hydro electric power plants capacity has reduced from 982 MWs to 215 MWs.

This resulted to power outages of a maximum of one hour in Davao City, two hours in Iligan City, four to five hours in Cagayan de Oro and General Santos City and, seven hours in Zamboanga City. Yesterday, Mati, Davao Oriental had no power for 24 hours.

NGCP power update also indicated that Mindanao’s available capacity was only placed at 820 MWs versus peak demand of 1,210 MWs.

In Luzon, the grid has registered 478 MWa generation deficiency after the 1,000-MW Sual coal fired power plant and the 600-MW Masinloc coal-fired power facility shutdown due to broiler tube leak.

NGCP said Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon would suffer two to three hours of rotating brownouts because of the shutdown.

NGCP said the peak demand in the Luzon grid hit 6,655 MWs higher than the available capacity of 6,177 MWs. (PNA) RMA/MSN/utb

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