Daily rotating outage hits ‘tuna capital’

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/23 February)—Due to insufficient power supply in the Mindanao grid, residential and business establishments in this city and two neighboring provinces will have to bear a daily rotating one-hour outage for about two weeks, an official said.

Rodolfo Ocat, South Cotabato Electric Cooperative II (SOCOTECO II) general manager, said the daily rotating one-hour brownout will last until March 4.

The electric cooperative implemented the load shedding on Wednesday, spanning a total of 10 hours from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

“As your distribution utility, SOCOTECO II appeals for public understanding on this matter, which is beyond its capacity to control,” Ocat said.

Socoteco II solely serves the entire General Santos City, the “Tuna Capital of the Philippines,” and Sarangani province and parts of South Cotabato, which are under Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao.

Ocat said the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines has issued an advisory that the Mindanao grid is on red alert status, with zero contingency reserve due to generation deficiency.

Socoteco II needs to adhere to the “Load to Maintain Against Generation Deficiency Matrix” issued by NGCP for the month of February, he added.

Owing to the supply lack, Ocat urged power consumers to observe conservation measures especially from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. of the day.

He noted that Therma Marine, Inc., a subsidiary of Aboitiz Power Corp., is augmenting the power needs of the cooperative.

The state-run National Power Corp. (Napocor) has reduced its power allocation to Socoteco II, reportedly by 32 megawatts starting this year, due to the dwindling capacity of its hydropower plants in Bukidnon and the Lanao provinces.

Last year, Socoteco II forged a supply deal of 18 MW with Therma Marine (TMI) in anticipation of the expected load shortage due to insufficient generation capacities.

Based on the NGCP’s outlook for Thursday, the Mindanao grid has a system capacity of 1117 MW and a peak load of 1247 MW, or a shortage of 130 MW.

Cynthia Alabanza, NGCP spokesperson, said the load curtailment and power interruptions in parts of Mindanao have been due to the generation deficiency of power plants.

At present, the power plants of Napocor and the other privately owned generating companies cannot meet the demand of customers connected to the Mindanao grid, she said

Alabanza said the NGCP, the private operator of the country’s transmission network, implements load curtailment when the power supply is insufficient to ensure the grid’s security and reliability.

Ideally, the Mindanao grid must have a 150 MW reserve capacity to ensure the facility’s stability, the firm said.

The level of curtailment is based on the matrix of load to be maintained and issued by the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation/ Napocor, it added.

In a statement posted on Tuesday in the NGCP website, Alabanza said “the NGCP cannot be blamed for the power problem in Mindanao because its lines are sufficient and are able to handle the entire energy load in the area. These lines are fully operational and are ready to deliver available power from the generators or producers to end-users.”

The NGCP official was reacting to recent reports that some parties are blaming NGCP, particularly its failure to renew its Ancillary Services Procurement Agreement (ASPA) with the power barges, for the daily brownouts in Mindanao.

“We want to clarify that our contract with TMI is only for ancillary services, not for the supply of power for the consumption of end-users. NGCP is not allowed by law or existing regulations to contract with power generators for the supply to end-users,” she added. (Bong Sarmiento with a report from H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)