Mindanao’s power supply is ‘acutely short,’ says NGCP

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/22 February) – The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) has described the power supply in Mindanao as being “acutely short,” and that the firm should not be blamed for the daily power curtailment in parts of the island.

Cynthia Alabanza, NGCP spokesperson, stressed on Tuesday that the firm’s transmission grid in Mindanao has nothing to do with the power outages in the area.

She issued the clarification after the daily brownouts have been blamed to the NGCP because of its failure to renew its Ancillary Services Procurement Agreement (ASPA) with Therma Marine, Inc. (TMI), a subsidiary of the Aboitiz Power Corp.

“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,” Alabanza said.

“That obligation, to supply power to end-users, belongs to the local distribution utility or cooperative,” she added.

Ancillary services refer to power supplier-driven services that are necessary to support the transmission of electricity from power resources to load customers and to maintain the reliability of power services. These load customers are distribution utilities (private utilities, electric cooperatives, government-owned utilities, ecozones), and large industries, government and non-government companies directly connected to the grid.

NGCP said it bills and collects ancillary services charges from its direct customers then remits these collections directly and entirely to the ancillary services provider, TMI.

“Ancillary services are pass through charges. NGCP does not make money off this transaction. Often times, we even lose money because while we have to pay generators for the full amount billed us, we cannot always collect from our own customers,” Alabanza said.

NGCP has remitted Php3.4 billion and Php2.9 billion ancillary payments to TMI in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

Alabanza maintained that the load curtailment and power interruptions currently experienced in Mindanao are attributed to a “generation deficiency” or lack of power supply generated by plants.

“For the Mindanao grid, there is a deficiency,” Alabanza said. “For example, just this week, the supply of electricity available to the grid was around 1,112 MW. However, the system demand peaked at 1,261 MW, which means the demand overshot the supply by 149 MW.

This number does not even include the required regulating and contingency reserves, which should be around 150 MW to ensure grid stability, she said.

As of 6 a.m. Wednesday, the NGCP said that Mindanao’s available capacity stood at 1117 MW, with the peak load pegged at 1255 MW, or a shortfall of 138 MW.

In the event that the power supply from the plants is not enough to address the demands of all power customers connected to the grid, NGCP implements load curtailment to maintain the power grid’s security and reliability, Alabanza said.

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

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.”

At present, the power plants of the NAPOLCOR and privately-owned generating companies cannot meet the demand of customers connected to the Mindanao grid, she said. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)