GenSan co-op calls for ‘sacrifice’ to save 5.4-MW electricity

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/26 March)– This city and parts of nearby South Cotabato and Sarangani provinces could save up to 5.4 megawatts (MW) of electricity if about 20 percent of the area’s 135,000 power consumers would switch off their 200-watt refrigeration units for at least four hours daily.

Distribution utility South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative (Socoteco II) made such projection as it linked up with the city government here for a campaign to encourage local consumers to lower their daily power consumption in the wake of the worsening power shortage in the Mindanao grid.

Rodolfo Ocat, Socoteco II general manager, said they are targeting to enlist around 27,000 households or 20 percent of their franchise area’s power consumers for the massive adoption of energy or power conservation measures.

He said such move was aimed to complement the planned implementation in the area starting next month of the Department of Energy’s (DoE) Interruptible Load Program (ILP), which is a voluntary de-loading scheme for large power users.

Socoteco II serves this city, the entire Sarangani province and the municipalities of Tupi and Polomolok in South Cotabato.

The electric cooperative is presently implementing two sets of daily rotating brownouts lasting seven hours each or a total of 14 hours due to the power shortage, which was mainly attributed to the declining generation capacity of the National Power Corporation’s (NPC) hydroelectric plants in Bukidnon and Lanao del Norte.

“We want to create awareness among our consumers, particularly those who have refrigerators, that they can help remedy our present situation by unplugging their units for four hours every day for a particular period,” Ocat said.

Such scheme will only have a minimal impact as it would not totally defrost the refrigerators, he said.

Ocat said consumers may unplug their refrigerators during the peak periods or specifically from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

“Assuming that 20 percent of the 135,000 Socoteco II customers own a refrigerator with average wattage of 200 watts each, we can save about 5,400 kilowatts or 5.4 MW daily through the scheme,” he said.

The city government has been implementing its own energy conservation measures and has started replacing the lights in all its buildings and offices with power-efficient units through the help of the DoE.

City Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio said they are currently assessing the power consumption of all their offices and will be regulating the use of their cooling and heating appliances.

She said the bidding is also ongoing for the purchase of the power-efficient light-emitting diode or LED lights to replace all existing streetlights in the city, which could reduce the city’s energy consumption by 1 MW.

Socoteco II and the City Economic Management and Cooperative Development Office have been also conducting information and awareness drives regarding the ILP and the power conservation scheme as well as the power situation in the area.

ILP is a demand-side management scheme that provides compensation to participating customers who enter into a contract with a distribution utility for the voluntary interruption or reduction of the power supply to them during peak periods and emergency conditions.

Two of the city’s four shopping malls and five other companies have already expressed commitment to take part in the ILP scheme, the mayor said.

She cited the KCC Mall and SM City General Santos as well as Dole Philippines, Inc., Citra Mina Group of Companies, Cargill Oil Mills, General Tuna Corporation and SAFI Group of Companies.

“With more companies being negotiated to participate, we expect to de-load the grid by at least 28 MW for three hours a day,” Custodio said.

In an advisory, Socoteco II’s technical services department noted that the area’s power deficit has so far dropped to 33 MW from last week’s 42 MW due to increased generation capacity of the NPC’s hydroelectric plants.

From 40 MW last week, it said the NPC and the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines increased the area’s power allocation to 49 MW because of the improved situation.

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.

“NPC, however, has no official forecast if such reduction in deficiency will continue over the week…Duration of rotational brownout is still at seven hours per group divided in two settings daily,” the electric cooperative said. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)