2 power barges not enough for Mindanao power lack

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/10 October) — Deploying two power barges from the Visayas would not be enough to offset the energy shortage in Mindanao caused by the temporary shutdown of a coal-fired power plant in Misamis Oriental, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) said Wednesday.

Bambie Capulong, NGCP corporate communication officer for Mindanao, said at the regular Club 888 Forum at The Marco Polo Davao that the two barges owned by the National Power Corporation (NPC) are from Iloilo City and has maximum capacity of 32 megawatts (MW) each.

She, however, said that since these power barges are already old their individual capacity now may be less than 32 MW.

She said she is yet to learn when the barges would arrive in their mooring sites, in General Santos City and in Cagayan de Oro City.

Capulong said power outages loom in Mindanao with the shutdown of the 210-MW Steag State Power Inc. coal plant in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental.

One of Steag’s two electric generation units has been cut off for preventive maintenance from October 6 to November 4. The other unit will be cut off from October 29 to November 10, she said.

Steag reportedly said this is its first time to undergo a preventive maintenance shutdown since the start of its full commercial operations in November 2006.

“The crucial moment will be during the overlapping period when two units will be totally shut down,” Capulong told reporters.

However, she said Davao and Cagayan de Oro cities are spared from two-hour rotating brownout as a result of the shutdown because the distribution utilities in these cities have enough power supply.

There will still be power deficit in Mindanao even when Steag resumes its operation because its allowable capacity will only be 190-200MW, she added.

As of 6:00 AM Wednesday, the system capacity of the Mindanao grid was 944 MW, while the peak demand was 1,233 MW, or a deficit of 289MW, according to the NGCP website.

Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) Chair Luwalhati Antonino, said in an October 3 statement that “making the public fully aware of the situation can strengthen power conservation measures and sustain consumer education to help ease up demand pressure.”

The newly created Mindanao Power Monitoring Committee (MPMC) is proposing to tap imbedded generators and the operationalization of the 100-MW Iligan Diesel Power Plant in the immediate term, while firming up the setting up of a one-stop-shop processing center to facilitate new applications, particularly mini hydro power, the statement said.

MPMC, which is created under Executive Order 81, is composed of MinDA, Department of Energy, Energy Regulatory Commission, National Electrification Administration, NPC, Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation and representatives from MEPA and the Association of Mindanao Rural Electric Cooperatives. (Lorie Ann Cascaro/MindaNews)