Longer brownouts expected as Pulangi IV shuts down on April 17

MALAYBALAY CITY  (MindNews/11 April)  — Longer brownouts are expected as the 255-megawatt Pulangi IV hydroelectric power plant in Maramag, Bukidnon will be shut down for a month starting April 17 for repair and maintenance work, plant manager Rudy Brioso said Tuesday.

Brioso, also OIC vice president for Mindanao of National Power Corporation told MindaNews in a telephone interview that the schedule is final as the tasks are overdue.  It was previously announced that the shutdown will be from April 9 to May 9.

The power plant, capable of generating 255 megawatts, was commissioned in December 1985. But Brioso told MindaNews that the plant’s generating capacity peak is now only 150 MW.

Brioso admitted this month’s shutdown could mean additional power curtailment but he said the Department of Energy has announced it would find ways to address the problem.

He said the National Power Corporation-Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM)  is looking at alternative power supply to address the impact of the shutdown.

The Bukidnon Second Electric Cooperative which covers Malaybalay City and other towns in northern Bukidnon, has announced that the shutdown may mean longer brownouts, up to eight hours a day.

Before the Holy week, rotational brownouts ranged from 2.5 to 6.5 hours. But no brownouts were experienced during the Holy Week up to April 10.

He said they will do repair work of the dam’s surge pool headrace channel and will also do maintenance work for the plant’s three generating units. .

Last year, he said, they were able to do repair and maintenance work for a week. He added that maintenance of the three units takes about 22 days each “but we are doing it simultaneously.”
He said they are hiring more maintenance workers to cut down the shutdown period.

The power plant, capable of generating 255 megawatts, was commissioned in December 1985. But Brioso told MindaNews on April 9 that the plant’s “generating capacity peak is only 150 MW.”

He said the shutdown will start on April 17 “to jibe with the on line of Agus 6 Unit 2 and is expected to be put into service by May 17 but we will try to complete our maintenance of three generating units by May 9, working 24 hours and we have coordinated with the contractor to complete the repair of surgepool headrace channel also by May 9.”

Agus 6 Unit 2 will go online with around 21MW generating capacity, Brioso said.

Brioso explained that they cannot defer the maintenance work and repair “because our equipment maintenance has long been overdue and there are signed indications to this effect. Likewise, we need to repair this channel to restore its stability and avert flooding in Maramag area and the progression of its scoured foundation.”

President Aquino will attend the Mindanao Power Summit on Friday afternoon in Davao City amid criticisms from various groups that the resolutions that would be proposed are a “done deal.”

Party List Rep. Teddy Casiño  earlier expressed fears that Friday’s Mindanao Power Summit is a “done deal,”  claiming agreements to jack up power rates in Mindanao and put up environmentally-hazardous coal plants have been sealed during a pre-summit meeting organized by the Department of Energy last week.

The environmental group, Greenpeace in a statement on April 11 challenged President Benigno Simeon Aquino to “demonstrate real leadership and political integrity” at the Mindanao Power Summit on Friday, April 13, by pushing for clean and renewable energy solutions for Mindanao “instead of anchoring the island’s energy future on dirty coal power.”

“The Mindanao power crisis is a test of President Aquino’s leadership and integrity. There is more than enough renewable energy potential in Mindanao to address the region’s current and future needs. Moreover, the enabling policy that was meant to achieve that vision is already in place. It would thus be a massive failure of leadership on his part if he chooses to endorse harmful coal projects in the face of such clean, viable and sustainable alternatives,” said Von Hernandez, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

The Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA),  said the summit, which will be held at the Waterfront Insular Hotel in Davao City will gather  some 300 delegates.

“The Power Summit accords us the opportunity to discuss the real Mindanao power situation and the specific short to long-term measures that stakeholders wanted acted on jointly by the government and the industry players,”  MinDA chair Luwalhati Antonino said.

The MinDA press statement said  among those expected to take part in the summit are “heads and representatives of all electric cooperatives in Mindanao, distribution utilities, generation companies, governors and city mayors, Mindanao lawmakers, business and industry sectors, non-government organizations, civil society groups and consumer advocates.”

Antonino said the Summit format was designed to provide opportunity for the key sectors and stakeholder representatives to present their respective issues and recommendations. The President is expected to respond with specific policy directives. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)