Mindanao facing power crisis starting next year

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/4 Nov) -Mindanao will experience power deficiency by at least 150 megawatts starting next year, according to an official of the Energy Development Corporation (EDC), the country’s biggest producer of renewable energy.

EDC resident manager Alejandro Catacutan, of the Mindanao Geothermal Production Field (MGPF), said that there is already a shortage in terms of power requirements for Mindanao.

“Our dependable capacity is not enough to cover the deficiency,” Catacutan told Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo in a briefing on Mindanao power situation held today at the EDC compound at Barangay Ilomavis here.

Robredo, together with Rep. Nancy Catamco (Cotabato 2nd Dist.), Cotabato Gov. Lala Taliño-Mendoza and officials of the Kidapawan City government, visited the Mindanao geothermal production field where they were also informed of the EDC’s plan to construct another geothermal plant at Mount Apo.

The construction of the project dubbed as Mindanao geothermal power plant 3, according to Catacutan, is “indispensable” or “necessary” to respond to the looming power crisis.

“Under normal power system, your capacity should be at least 20 percent over the peak demand. This is necessary because you should have some contingency in case a power plant bogs down or if it needs to undergo a scheduled maintenance,” said Catacutan.

The deficit in power requirement next year is pegged at 3 to 5 percent, which data showed is estimated at 150 megawatts.

Catacutan said the construction of the new geothermal plant is set to commence on August next year. The company needs some $150 million to complete the project, he added.

While Mindanao 3 can help, it is, however, not the “total solution” to the power crisis, since the plant can only produce 50 megawatts.

“In effect, that will only answer a fraction of the deficit,” Catacutan told the media here.

In 10 years’ time, data showed, Mindanao needs some 800 megawatts of power supply to meet the demand of a fast-growing economy and increasing population.

During the briefing, Robredo asked about the requirements that must be complied by the EDC before it could operate another plant at Mount Apo. One of the issues he raised was about permits.

Catacutan admitted the firm has yet to get an endorsement from the LGU before the project could start.

Earlier, City Mayor Rodolfo Gantuangco said he is not keen on endorsing the project after EDC was granted an exemption to pay some P45 million in real property taxes starting this year.

Gantuangco said the exemption has affected the city’s Special Education Fund (SEF) which is used to pay the salaries of 189 locally hired teachers.

Catacutan, however, is optimistic the city LGU will see the importance of constructing an additional power plant to respond to a bigger problem starting next year and the years to come.

“What is so nice about Mindanao 3, it can operate all-year round. It’s not affected by weather. Besides, Mindanao 3 is a renewable energy, so it has less carbon dioxide emission, very clean. We have all the advantages if we construct Mindanao 3. It will answer partially the crisis,” he stressed. ( Malu Cadeliña Manar / MindaNews)