NorthCot braces for longer blackouts lasting 7-10 hours

KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews / 20 March) – Businessmen and power consumers in North Cotabato are again bracing for longer brownouts as one of the units of the privately-owned diesel-fired power plants in Compostela Valley underwent immediate repairs starting Tuesday.

Vicente Baguio, spokesman of the Cotabato Electric Cooperative (Cotelco)-Main, said that starting Wednesday the rotating blackouts in their service areas last up to seven hours when one of the plants of Therma Marine, Inc. (TMI) in Maco, Compostela Valley bogged down after long usage, way longer than the plants were designed for.

But the situation is even worse elsewhere in the province – particularly those relying on the substation of Cotelco at the Pigcawayan-Pikit-Aleosan-Libungan-Midsayap Area (P-PALMA) – with power outages as long as 10 hours.

Wilfredo Rodolfo, TMI’s corporate communications head, confirmed the report by saying they have to cut off part of the power distributed to electric cooperatives and other companies when one of the barges of their diesel-fired plants in Maco town shut down. It has a capacity of 50MW, he added.

“These diesel-fired power plants are designed only as peaking plants, meaning, they are only used when the Mindanao grid needs additional power during peak hours. But since 2010, these plants are into 24-hour operation, which is already beyond their capacity,” said Rodolfo.

The TMI, a subsidiary of the Aboitiz Power Corporation, produces 200 MW from its power barges in Nasipit, Agusan del Norte and in Maco, Compostela Valley.

These barges supply power to 23 electric cooperatives and distribution utilities in Mindanao in addition to the supply provided by the state-owned National Power Corporation-Power Sector Assets Liabilities and Management (NPC-PSALM).

The Cotelco-Main, service provider for 12 towns and one city in North Cotabato province, used to buy additional 8 MW of power from the TMI. But since Tuesday, the electric cooperative has only been given 6 MW.

“That means longer brownouts for North Cotabato,” said Baguio. From four hours, the rotating blackouts now last to seven hours a day, he added. (Malu Cadelina Manar / MindaNews)