PNoy asked to order transfer of 3 power barges from Panay to Mindanao

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/12 March) – President Benigno Aquino III has been urged to intervene in the impending power shortage in Mindanao by ordering to forgo the sale of three power barges presently stationed in Panay Island and temporarily transfer it to appropriate stations in Mindanao.

In asking Aquino to intervene, Nestor Degoma, president of the Power Alternative Agenda for Mindanao (Palag Mindanao), different sectors are now asking for drastic and decisive moves to help avert the impending power shortage in the island.

Degoma, however, said he was voicing a personal stand and that he will ask Palag Mindanao to pass a resolution asking the President to order the transfer.

He said several electric cooperatives around Mindanao are forced to buy power from Therma Marine, Inc., a subsidiary of Aboitiz Power Corporation. TMI runs two power barges, M1 and M2, formerly known as power barges 117 and 118.

In Bukidnon, the Bukidnon Second Electric Cooperative, short of six to seven megawatts, has implemented a daily two-hour rotational power curtailment scheme.

Consumers being served by the First Bukidnon Electric Cooperative (Fibeco), which has enough supply with its own local sources, have experienced no curtailment so far.

As of 11a.m. Monday, Mindanao has a shortage of 150-megawatts during peak hours (from 6 to 8p.m.) quoting figures from the National Grid Corporation of the Philippine, Degoma said.

He said the NGCP cited the decrease in the water level of Lake Lanao as a cause of the reduction.

He said they got information that the Visayas grid has excess supply of power so the transfer of at least two of the three barges won’t make a dent for now.

Degoma is referring to power barges 101, 102, and 103, which the Department of Energy had announced in February 2011 would be transferred to Mindanao.

But he said it did not push true because it would make the National Power Corporation – Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) operate allegedly at heavy losses.

“But the situation now calls for such action. There is no much choice,” he said, adding the [power] situation was already critical.

He said another immediate solution is the operation of the 108-megawatt Iligan Diesel Power Plant, which has been stalled after it was embargoed by the Iligan City government from the previous
operator due to failure to pay taxes.

He said the city government must act by deferring the sale of the 18-engine plant. He said about two to three engines can run in three weeks to two months, just enough to help address the power shortage in
the host-city.

Degoma said the Lanao Power Consumers Federation (Lapocof) also wanted the rest of the turbines to become operational to eventually help address the shortage of the rest of Mindanao. He said if the repairs on the plant can be done right away, about 60 megawatts can be made available in two to four months time.

He said the IDPP is a doable option because it was made operational up to May 31, 2010 for the elections.

Palag is a network of civil society organizations in Mindanao, which campaigned against the privatization of the Agus and Pulangi power complexes as provided for in the Electric Power Industry Reform Act. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)