GenSan, SouthCot, Sarangani brownouts not to end soon

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 2 Feb) – The continuing hour-long daily rotating brownouts here and in nearby South Cotabato and Sarangani provinces will not likely end soon as Mindanao’s power situation reportedly remained under “red alert” status.

Joy Celeste Alora, information officer of South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative (Socoteco II), said they received an advisory from the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) that the power load cuts it imposed early last month to local power cooperatives in Mindanao will remain in effect due to the unstable power supplies coming from the hydroelectric plants of the National Power Corporation (NPC).

Based on the NGCP’s power situation outlook for Thursday, the combined capacity of Mindanao’s power generation plants is pegged at 1,216 megawatts (mw) or 51mw short of the area’s estimated peak demand of 1,267mw.

The NPC’s hydropower plants in Bukidnon and the two Lanao provinces supply more than half of the island’s power requirements.

“The one-hour rotating brownouts will continue to affect two of our main power feeders from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. The curtailments will normally happen during the peak hours, especially in the evening,” Alora said.

Socoteco II serves this city, the seven municipalities of nearby Sarangani Province and two municipalities in the first congressional district of South Cotabato.

The cooperative’s franchise area has a current peak demand of 102mw that grows at an average of 4 percent annually.

But Rodolfo Ocat, Socoteco II general manager, projected that the increase in the area’s total power demand would double this year due to the opening within the first half of the year of a major shopping mall complex as well as several hotels and commercial establishments.

Beginning January, Ocat said NPC cut down the area’s power allocation by 28 to 30mw, reducing their average daily base power load at around 70mw.

Socoteco II forged an agreement in May last year with the Aboitiz-owned Therma Marine Inc. (TMI) for an augmentation of 18mw, leaving the current power deficit in the area at 14mw.

Alora said the area’s power situation will only improve if the status of NPC’s hydropower plants would stabilize within the next few months.

“The situation might ease a bit when the summer season comes in since we expect then some improvements in the generation capacity of the hydropower plants,” she said.

Alora said the Socoteco II management is presently working on another deal with TMI for another augmentation of 5mw within the first half of the year.

In June last year, Socoteco II signed a power sales agreement with the Alcantara-led Sarangani Energy Corporation (SEC) for a base load supply of 70mw for 25 years starting in early 2014.

The agreement, which is currently pending approval by the Energy Regulatory Commission, will take effect in time for the projected commercial streaming of the initial 100mw of the 200mw coal-fired power plant of SEC in Maasim town in Sarangani.

The US$ 450-million coal power plant is being built by SEC’s mother firm Conal Holding Corporation, which is backed by the Alcantara Group and Thailand’s Electricity Generating Public Company Limited. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)