GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/9 Jan) – The National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR) has cut down its power allocation for this city and nearby areas in Sarangani and South Cotabato provinces by 32 megawatts (mw) as a result of the dwindling capacity of its hydropower plants in Mindanao, an official of distribution utility South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative (Socoteco II) said.
Rodolfo Ocat, Socoteco II general manager, said the NAPOCOR reduced its contracted power supply to the cooperative’s service area starting this year due to the unstable condition of its maintained power plants, especially the hydropower plants in Bukidnon and in the Lanao provinces.
Socoteco II’s service area covers this city, the entire Sarangani province and two municipalities in nearby South Cotabato.
“NAPOCOR’s power supplies to the Mindanao grid was actually on the decline since last year, that’s why we started looking for other power sources to cover for the deficit,” Ocat said.
In May last year, Socoteco II initially signed a supply deal for a standby power of 18 mw from the Aboitiz-owned Therma Marine Inc. (TMI) in anticipation of NAPOCOR’s power load cuts.
Ocat said the additional power supplies from TMI have reduced the area’s deficit of 14 mw, which is currently felt during the peak hours.
Last week, Socoteco II issued an advisory that it is implementing rotating brownouts of 45 minutes to one hour daily within its service area as a result of the deficit.
To help ease the situation, Ocat said the cooperative is presently negotiating with TMI for an additional supply of 5 mw.
“(TMI) initially signified to move one of its power barges in Visayas to Mindanao to accommodate our request for additional supplies,” he said.
Ocat said the cooperative is also waiting for the anticipated operationalization later this of the Iligan Diesel Power Plants 1 and 2, which were put on sale since last year.
The power plants, which were previously owned by NAPOCOR, were acquired by the local government of Iligan through levy due to the company’s failure to settle its real property tax dues.
“If it resumes operation by the third or fourth quarter of the year, then I think we’re safe here,” he said.
Ocat said the streaming of additional power from the diesel plants will not only erase the area’s deficit but would also cover for the requirements of the new establishments that are being put up in the city.
He specifically cited the P2.5-billion SM City General Santos mall complex, which is slated to open during the first half of the year, and several new hotels and commercial buildings.
Citing their projections, he said the opening of SM and other establishments this year will require another 7 mw to the city’s power requirements, which grows at an average of 4.2 percent annually.
“We’ve foreseen that the growth of our power requirements will be abnormal or beyond the average this year and even until next year due to the opening of SM mall and other establishments,” he said.
Ocat said they expect the situation to normalize in three years, in time for the projected commercial streaming of the initial 100 mw of the 200-mw coal-fired power plant of the Sarangani Energy Corporation (SEC) in Maasim town in Sarangani.
The $450-million coal power plant is being built by Conal Holding Corporation, which is backed by the Alcantara Group and Thailand’s Electricity Generating Public Company Limited.
Socoteco II signed a power sales agreement with SEC in June last year for the streaming of 70 mw of power from the coal plants by 2014. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)