Power crisis in Mindanao could last until August

April 25, 2010 12:41 pm 

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, April 25 -– The power crisis in Mindanao could last until August this year, it was learned Sunday.

This gloomy scenario came out when officials of the National Power Corporation (Napocor), led by Engr. Gerardo Baula Jr. and other power industry executives, faced the city’s legislative body here early this week.

The city council of this region’s frontier city is alarmed over the losses the city and Mindanao have been suffering due to the rotating brownouts.

Baula told the members of the city council that the daily brownouts would likely continue because the situation of the water level in Lake Lanao where the five Agus hydroelectric power plants and Pulangi river in Bukidnon are still under critical level.

As of Sunday, the power supply availability is only 755 megawatts against the 1,197 mW peak demand that day, according to the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) advisory.

Unless the weather shows some improvement, five to six hours rotating brownouts would continue to be implemented in Mindanao’s 33 electric cooperatives and other power users in many key areas of the southern island until the last week of August as a result of the dry spell brought about by the El Niño phenomenon since late of January this year.

State-owned power officials said the heat is drying up Lake Lanao and Bukidnon’s Pulangui River, sources of Mindanao’s hydroelectric power grid.

The Cagayan Electric Power and Light Co. (Cepalco) and Agusan del Norte Electric Cooperative (ANECO) said the government could cushion the effects of El Niño on Mindanao’s power-generation capability if it wanted to.

Lawyer Jose Edgardo Uy, Cepalco vice president for administration, told the city council that the proposed measures were detailed in letters sent to the National Grid.

The proposals are for the government to cause the full use of two power barges to meet the power demands of Cagayan de Oro and nearby provinces, dredging of the Lake Lanao and Pulangi River and the immediate repair of hydroelectric power plants in Lanao.

In a separate interview on Sunday, ANECO Corporate Manager Engr. Noli Namocatcat said they are already posing to buy power of at least 10 mW from the Aboitiz fossil plant stationed in Nasipit, Agusan del Norte.

The power industry executives said Mindanao has already reached the critical supply level and the situation would worsen if the water levels of Lake Lanao and Pulangi River would further recede.

The low water levels have taken a toll on the hydropower-generation facilities even as mud threatens to damage the power plants’ turbines.

Councilor President Elipe, chairperson of the Cagayan de Oro city council’s committee on energy, said this means that the business sector should brace for more losses until August.

Elipe said the Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. reported that the city’s business establishments have already resorted to belt-tightening measures and a number have opted to close shop than absorb heavy losses.

Elipe said the power crisis in Mindanao has scared off many investors.

Meanwhile, construction of Agus 3 hydroelectric plant is set to rise in Saguiran, Lanao del Sur on October, this year, it was gathered.

Director Billy Braza of the Agus 3 Lanao Hydro Corporation, the developer of the project said the power plant has a capacity of 225 mW, which will be an additional power source for Mindanao.

The official added that the project would cost US$ 400 million, and will be funded by the China Export-Import Bank, as a loan.

In a related development, the Sanguniang Panglunsod of Iligan City has approved a resolution last week for the acquisition of a power generating set to alleviate the power problem.

According to the city information office under Melvin T. Anggot, the generating set would cost P2.6 million, adding that the said amount would be taken from the city’s calamity fund.

The author of the said resolution is Councilor Alfredo Busico, the Sanguniang Panglunsod’s chair of the committee on finance. (PNA)



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