Mindanao power supply enough despite El Niño—DOE

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DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 17 Aug)—The power supply of Mindanao will remain stable even during El Niño, an official of the Department of Energy (DOE)-Mindanao Field Office assured.

A newly inaugurated hydro plant in Jabonga, Agusan del Norte. MindaNews file photo by IVY MARIE A. MANGADLAO

During the Kapihan sa Philippine Information Agency (PIA) on Thursday, Engr. Darwin P. Galang, DOE-Mindanao Field Office senior science research specialist, said that a simulation conducted by the agency showed that the occurrence of El Niño will not adversely impact the grid owing to the other sources of power in Mindanao.

He pointed out, however, that “the occurrence of El Niño will affect the hydropower plants because there will be reduction of their capacities when the rivers and lakes are dried up.”

Galang noted that the Mindanao grid has a diverse mix of power sources, and will not likely suffer from the impact of drought.

Based on the estimate of DOE-Mindanao Field Office, power supply would remain sufficient “even with 50% to 70% reduction in the available capacities of hydropower plants in Mindanao.”

Engr. Nilo J. Geroche, also of DOE-Mindanao Field Office, said the agency activated in July the Task Force on Energy Resiliency to monitor the power supply situation in the country and mitigate the impact of calamities, including El Niño.

The task force is composed of the DOE, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, Energy Regulatory Commission, Inter-Agency Energy Contingency Committee, various groups in the energy sector, and agencies under the security cluster.

Geroche said the hydropower sources comprise 31.73% of the energy mix of Mindanao and contribute an average supply of 1,190 megawatts to the grid.

A coal plant in Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte. MindaNews file photo by H. MARCOS C. MORDENO

There is excess supply of power on the island, with available average supply estimated at 2,946 MW and an average demand of 2,051 MW as of August 15, according to Galang.

Geroche said that brownouts could have been caused by other factors on the transmission and distribution side, including insufficiency in contracted power supply of some electric cooperatives and distribution utilities.

He said the problem of lack of contracted power may now be addressed through tapping into the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market where electric cooperatives and distribution utilities can buy power to fill the deficit.

In an advisory released by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) last July 4, El Niño, which is characterized by fewer occurrences of rainfall and typhoons, is already present in the tropical Pacific.

It said that PAGASA’s climate monitoring and analyses indicate that “the unusual warming of sea surface temperatures along the equatorial Pacific that was established in March 2023 has further developed into a weak El Niño, which shows signs of strengthening in the coming months.”

It said that the El Niño increases the likelihood of below-normal rainfall conditions, which could bring negative impacts such as dry spells and droughts in some areas of the country that may adversely impact the different climate-sensitive sectors, such as water resources, agriculture, energy, health and public safety.

It added that the enhanced Southwest monsoon season (Habagat) may still be expected, which may result in above-normal rainfall conditions over the western part of the country. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)

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