Mindanao electric coops nix Pulangi IV shutdown until…

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/12 April) — Electric cooperatives in Mindanao will ask for the deferment of the scheduled shutdown of the Pulangi IV hydroelectric power plant to avoid prolonged brownouts in parts of the island, a distribution utility official said on Thursday.

Pulangi IV has been set for maintenance shutdown for one month starting April 17.

Santiago C. Tudio, manager of the South Cotabato ElectricCooperative I (Socoteco I), said the Association of Mindanao Rural Cooperative,Inc (AMRECO)  will ask for the deferment of the shutdown during the Mindanao Power Summit on Friday afternoon in Davao City.

Tudlo saidi their organization maintains that Pulangui should not be shut down for a month unless there’s a supply to fill the gap.

“[Mindanao] will lose a supply of 155 megawatts  if  the maintenance shutdown will push through,” he said  in a radio interview.

Commissioned in December 1985, the 255-MW Pulangi VI has a generating capacity of only 150MW now, plant manager Rudy Brioso, concurrent OIC Vice President for Mindanao of National Power Corporation earlier told MindaNews.

Before shutting down Pulangi for maintenance works, Tudio said there should be available supply to fill the hole.

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.

Brioso 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.

When Pulangui IV shuts down on April 17,  Mindanao’s power supply will be 150MW less but with the 21MW Agus 6 Unit 2 going online on the same day,  the total power supply in Mindanao would be around 121MW less for a month.

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.”

Based on the outlook of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), Mindanao’s system capacity on Thursday was 1,094 MW with demand to peak at 1,251 MW, or a supply shortfall of 157 MW.

Tudio pointed out that the Iligan diesel power plant, which has a capacity of 110 MW, has remained idle due to ownership issues.

Last month, the Alcantara Group disclosed plans to resume the operations of the Iligan diesel plant reportedly within six months.

Tomas I. Alcantara, Alsons Consolidated Resources, Inc. chair and president, recently told the Philippine Stock Exchange that the company, through subsidiary Mapalad Power Corp, is set to acquire the Iligan facility.

The Iligan local government earlier put up the power plant for auction after the state-owned National Power Corp reportedly failed to settle the real property tax due to the city.

Aside from the Iligan diesel plant, Tudio said there are power barges outside Mindanao that can be brought to the island in lieu of the temporary shutdown of Pulangi IV.

He said AMRECO, which groups 33 electric cooperatives in Mindanao, would also push for transparency from the NGCP and Napocor during Friday’s energy summit in Davao City.

AMRECO wants a clear picture from them on the capacity of the power plants and how much is actually generated, he added.

President Benigno C. Aquino III is expected to attend the summit spearheaded by the Mindanao Development Authority in collaboration with the Department of Energy.

In a statement on Wednesday, Secretary Luwalhati R. Antonino, MinDA chair, said that based on latest confirmations, around 300 to 350 delegates are expected to attend the event.

“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,” she said.

Antonino stressed that no less than President Aquino sought that proposed measures for resolving the Mindanao power problem and putting in place a long term action plan should form part of the shared consensus of the Mindanao stakeholders.

“This is being done for and by the Mindanawons who have a direct stake in theMindanao power issue and what needs to be done, and the President will be there to see to it that the proposed measures are thoroughly studied and doables carried through,” she added.

Among those expected to take part in the one-day 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 societygroups 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 for way forward actions.

The President is expected to respond with specific policy directives, she said. (Bong Sarmiento/MindaNews)