Co-op gears for deployment of modular generator sets

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/22 March)– Distribution utility South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative (Socoteco II) has started preparing for the planned deployment here next month by the national government of fuel-fired modular generator sets to help ease the area’s worsening power shortage.

Rodolfo Ocat, Socoteco II general manager, said they are currently evaluating the number of modular generator sets needed by its franchise area and the possible sites where they would be deployed or assigned.

Citing initial information they received from the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), he said the generator sets that would be deployed in the area will have a capacity of one to two megawatts (MW).

“These are small generator sets that can easily be transferred from one area to another at any given time,” Ocat said.

He said these generator units weigh not so heavy so their users may just place them at any spot and already start generating power.

Ocat said the electric cooperative’s board earlier endorsed the deployment of the modular generator sets as a temporary solution to the seven-hour daily rotating brownouts currently plaguing the area.

Socoteco II is presently implementing two sets of daily rotating brownouts lasting seven hours per area grouping or a total of 14 hours.

The electric cooperative serves this city, the entire Sarangani province and the municipalities of Polomolok and Tupi in South Cotabato.

In an advisory, Socoteco II increased the area’s rotating brownouts from six hours last Friday to seven hours starting on Monday due to the reduced power allocation from the National Power Corporation (NPC) and the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines.

Socoteco II’s technical services department noted that the NPC’s contracted power supplies to the area has dropped to 40 MW starting Monday from 52 MW in January.

Aboitiz-owned Therma Marine Inc. augments the area’s power supplies by 30 MW based on a power sales agreement that it earlier signed with Socoteco II.

The reduced power allocation raised the area’s deficit to 42 MW based on its daily peak demand of 112 MW.

On Wednesday, MinDa chairperson Luwalhati Antonino said the Department of Energy is working on the deployment of modular generator sets here and in other key cities in Mindanao to ease the grid’s power deficit.

She said they are now negotiating with several suppliers to facilitate the deployment of the generator sets by early April.

Antonino said the utilization of the modular generator sets would be very costly and might increase the area’s basic power rates to more than P8 per kilowatt-hour (kwh) or at par with the rates in Davao City.

Ocat said they have yet to determine the possible additional charges to the present basic rates in the area when the modular generator sets eventually becomes operational.

“(But) based on our observation, the generation charges for small generator sets could go as high as P13-P14 per kwh,” he said. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)