Power outages loom as electric plants need reconditioning

BUTUAN CITY (Mindanews / 14 May) – Electric consumers in Mindanao would be expected to experience anew rotating and long blackouts probably starting next month as power producers signified scheduling “preventive” maintenance of their respective power plants due to full loading and uninterrupted electric supplies on voting day.

Engr. Noli Namocatcat, manager of Butuan-based Agusan del Norte Electric Cooperative (ANECO), said Mindanao power consumers must prepare again for a series of blackouts that would be imposed on the island’s 33 electric cooperatives.

He disclosed that several power producers were worried if there would still be no rains by June “for they would be forced to cut their power distribution.”

“We just hope that we will not suffer severe problem as what we suffered early this year up to early this month,” Namocatcat told reporters on Wednesday.

In its power advisory dated May 12 sent to local media outlets here, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) said the available capacity load is 1,200 megawatt.

Scheduled to undergo for maintenance ‘check-up” next month was the island’s coal-fired thermal power plant situated in Iligan City, Lanao del Norte, sources at the NGCP said . Other fossil-fed power plants would soon follow either by the end of June or July.

The Iligan coal-fired thermal power plant is one of the biggest electric contributors in Mindanao, with 210 megawatts.

The same source said the coal-fired thermal power plant was supposed to have its preventive maintenance last February 2010, but it was deterred purposely to augment the power supply shortage being generated by Mindanao’s dominantly hydro power plants in Lake Lanao’s five Agus plants and Pulangi plant in Maramag, Bukidnon.

All diesel-fired plants in the island were on full load capacity to support the Agus and Pulangi plants while big companies also temporarily shut down to help give uninterrupted power during Election Day.

Meanwhile, data gathered from the Department of Energy (DoE) showed that diesel and gasoline-run power plants, now comprise 40 percent of the power produced in Mindanao for this year, much higher compared to its 17 percent share of the power production pie in 2009.

Mindanaos’s hydro power plants now generate merely 26 percent, 24 percent from coal-run power plants, and 10 percent from geothermal plants.

It can be recalled that in 2009, hydro-electric power was the primary source of power with 53 percent of the power production, 19 percent from coal-fed power plants, and 11 percent from geothermal.

Record shows that there were five other diesel-fed power plants helping the Agus and Pulangi plants in Mindanao grid. Some of these power plants were supposed to be under preventive maintenance this month but because of the election it was rescheduled to another month. (Alden Pantaleon / MindaNews)