Sarangani town wants more power

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/03 May) – The municipal council of Alabel, Sarangani on Tuesday asked the Department of Energy to order the National Power Corporation and the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines to give it priority in the dispatch of the electricity generated by the 55-megawatt Southern Philippine Power Corporation (SPPC) in the light of continuing power supply load curtailment being implemented by the South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative (Socoteco II).

The bunker-fired SPPC, located in Baluntay village in Alabel is owned by the family of Sarangani Gov. Miguel Rene Alcantara Dominguez, which is also set to build a coal-fired power plant in Maasim town.

SPPC went on commercial stream in 1998 under the build-operate-own scheme but all power supply it is generating is already contracted to NPC. Its supply contract with NPC will end in 2016.

In a unanimously approved resolution, the municipal council cited Section 5(i) of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of Republic Act 7638 otherwise known as Department of Energy Act of 1992 which allows the host town to get 25 percent of the available capacity generated by SPPC in times of energy shortage.

Alabel and the rest of Sarangani, along with General santos City and the south Cotabato towns of Tupi and Polomolok, are under the distribution franchise of Socotecto II.

Councilor Joel Aton said Alabel, capitol town of Sarangani, has an average monthly consumption of 1,953,500 kilowatt hour.

Aton said DoE has sent word it will dispatch personnel for technical evaluation.

Socoteco II resorted to daily rotational brownouts of up to four hours following advice of reduced supply from NPC.

Geronimo Desesto, Socoteco II manager for institutional service department said supply from NPC went further down from 75 MW to 45 MW in April prompting the cooperative to purchase a total of 30 MW additional power supply from the Aboitiz-owned Therma Marine Inc.

Alabel is one of the growing numbers of local government units that are demanding preferential treatment from power plants located in their areas.

Last month, Kidapawan threatened to launch protest actions if their demand for power supply from the Philippine National Oil Company-Energy Development Corporation is not met.

Kidapawan, which is experiencing brownouts of up to eight hours daily, is host to the 110-MW Mt. Apo Geothermal Plant.

Last month, President Benigno S. Aquino III graced the Mindanao Power Summit in Davao City which tackled the worsening power crisis in the island.

The president however told Mindanao residents they will have to pay more for steady power supply.

Mindanao’s actual and available capacity is now down to less than 1,200 MW or some 170 MW less than the peak demand of 1,350 MW.

The deficit in power supply has been blamed on antiquated and poorly maintain hydroelectric power plants and the sale of other NPC generating assets that included the two power barges sold to Therma Marine.

Power Barges 117 and 118 have a combined capacity of 200 MW. (Edwin G. Espejo/MindaNews)