Rotating power outage to hit SW Mindanao

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/04 January)—With the power situation in Mindanao under “Red Alert” status, a rotating power interruption is expected to hit this city and neighboring provinces as the projected supply deficiency continues to worsen on Wednesday.

Joy Celeste Alora, information officer of the South Cotabato Electric Cooperative II, said the Mindanao grid has insufficient supply due to the reduced generation capacity of the National Power Corp.

NPC operates hydropower plants that provide over half of the island’s power supply.

“SOCOTECO II will implement rotating brownouts lasting for 45 minutes to an hour in its franchise area,” Alora said in a radio interview.

“Unless there will be new power producers, supply won’t become stable. Our power supply is now in a precarious situation because of ageing power plants,” she added.

SOCOTECO II serves this city, the whole of Sarangani province (seven towns) and Polomolok and Tupi in South Cotabato, or SOCSARGEN.

The power generation deficiency in Mindanao has prompted the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) to resort to load curtailment in the last few days.

Based on the NGCP outlook as of 6 a.m. Wednesday, the island’s system capacity stood at 1192 megawatts (MW).

The projected peak load was pegged at 1269 MW, hence a deficiency of 77 MW or a 92% increase from Tuesday’s shortfall of only 6 MW.

In effect, the deficiency puts Mindanao’s power system condition under “Red Alert” status.

“Red Alert” refers to the system condition where the contingency reserve is zero or a generation deficiency exists, NGCP explained in an earlier statement.

Mindanao was placed last November under “Yellow Alert,” a system condition where the total of all reserves is less than 13.2% of the required capacity.

When system reserves are more than sufficient to meet the reserve requirements of the grid, the system is considered to be under normal condition.

The system alert, and the corresponding power curtailment, if any, is lifted once demand recedes or once there is enough available capacity coming into the grid from the power plants.

In a phone interview, Milfrance  Capulong, NGCP communications officer for Mindanao, said the generation deficiency experienced in the Southern Philippines started last January 1.

However, she declined to give details when asked for the reasons of the generation deficiency reportedly from the NPC, saying she’s not privy to such matters.

But Capulong noted that power demand in Mindanao is on a rising trend, thus helping strain the supply.

She could not say until when the NGCP, the private operator of the country’s power transmission network, would implement the load curtailment on electric distributors across the island.

Capulong also stressed the need to put in place additional power generation facilities to serve the growing needs of the island.

To date at least, three companies—Aboitiz Power Corp., Sarangani Energy Corp., and San Miguel Corp.—have bared plans to put up coal power plants in different locations in Mindanao.

These coal-fired power plant projects, however, have been facing resistance on concerns over human health and the environment. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)