Red alert for Mindanao power status

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews/27 June) – Parts of Mindanao are feared to experience anew one to four hours of daily power interruption due to the curtailment implemented by the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP).

Santiago Tudio, South Cotabato Electric Cooperative I (Socoteco I) general manager, said the Mindanao grid is now in a red alert status, meaning a severe deficiency in power supply.

“We have [again] a lack of power supply for the island,” he said, citing a grid advisory sent to cooperatives.

On Tuesday, a one-hour power outage hit this city abruptly. This morning, a 15-minute power interruption also occurred here, the seat of government of Region 12.

Tudio blamed Tuesday’s brownout to the breakdown of one of the coal-fired power plants of STEAG State Power, Inc. in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental.

Jerome Soldevilla, STEAG public relations officer, confirmed their coal mill unit 2 experienced a problem, forcing them to reduce capacity by 50 megawatts to 150 MW from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“We’re now back to 200 MW and operating on a normal level,” he said in a phone interview.

“We need to rectify the problem immediately to prevent further damage,” Soldevilla added.

The STEAG power plant, which started operating in November 2006, has an installed capacity of 232 MW, according to its website.

Tudio told MindaNews that consumers besieged them with complaints because of the brownout, lamenting they were not advised beforehand.

“What we’re asking is for the NGCP to give as a lead time so we can inform our consumers if there’s a curtailment,” he noted.

Socoteco I, which serves nine localities in South Cotabato and Lutayan in Sultan Kudarat, has a projected daily peak demand of 30 to 31 MW.

If the shortfall in the Mindanao grid is 260 MW, Socoteco I gets 24 WM from the grid, Tudio explained, adding they have bought 4 MW from Therma Marine, Inc. to help address the gap.

Tudio said their cooperative now lacks 2 MW to meet the demand of its service area and the option is a rotating brownout to minimize its impact to businesses and residential consumers.

For a 24-hour outage, he lamented the cooperative is losing P333,000 or nearly P14,000 per hour.

Milfrance Capulong, NGCP Mindanao corporate communications officer, pegged the curtailment level Wednesday at 260 MW, which was higher than what was posted on their website.

At the NGCP website, it said the Mindanao grid has a shortfall of 210 MW, given the available capacity of 1059 MW and a peak demand of 1269 MW.

Capulong told MindaNews that the load curtailment in the island “has not stopped” since it was implemented several months ago, although consumers may not have felt it lately because the cooperatives have bought supply from private power producers.

The continuous load curtailment was due to generation deficiency, she said. (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)