Socoteco explores addt’l 30 MW to help shorten brownouts

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/28 March) — Distribution utility South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative (Socoteco II) is exploring the possibility of acquiring the contracted 30 megawatts of (MW) of standby power of the Davao Light and  Power Company (DLPC) to help shorten the brownouts.

Rodolfo Ocat, Socoteco II general manager, said they are planning to initiate negotiations with the Davao City-based DLPC for the transfer to the electric cooperative of the latter’s unutilized power sales deal with Therma Marine Inc. (TMI).

DLPC and TMI are both controlled and operated by Aboitiz Power Corporation.

Ocat said they asked the Department of Energy (DoE) and the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) to help facilitate the planned negotiations with DLPC.

Aside from DLPC, he said they were also considering possible additional augmentation from the Cagayan Electric Power and Light Company, Inc., which serves the city of Cagayan de Oro and parts of Misamis Oriental province.

“This is more of an appeal to our big brothers in the power industry  for help since they currently have surplus capacity. They’re also more experienced and have more resources to effectively address this kind of problem,” Ocat said.

The electric cooperative is presently implementing two sets of daily rotating brownouts lasting seven hours each or a total of 14 hours daily 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.

Socoteco II, which has a daily average peak power demand of 112 MW, serves this city, the entire Sarangani Province and the municipalities of Tupi and Polomolok in South Cotabato.

Socoteco II’s technical services department noted that the area’s total deficit is presently at 33 MW as the NPC only managed to supply 49 MW to the area this week.

TMI augments the area’s power supplies by 30 MW based on a power sales agreement that it earlier signed with Socoteco II.

The electric cooperative forged the sales deal with TMI in 2011 after the NPC slashed the area’s power allocation to the area by 30 percent or from 104 MW to 72 MW in 2012.

This year, NPC imposed another 30 percent cut to the area’s power supplies or specifically from 72 MW to 52 MW.

Ocat said Socoteco II has fully utilized its 30 MW supply contract with TMI but DLPC, which has a standing contract of 30 MW with the firm, only uses them as standby power.

“Instead of just using it as standby power, DLPC might agree to give this to other coops or distribution utilities for two months this summer,” he said.

In case Socoteco II gets DLPC’s nod, he said the current rotating brownouts in the area might eventually go down to just four hours.

He said the 30-MW augmentation can offset the area’s power demand from around noon to late evening.

Based on their initial projection, he added that the additional charges for its use will only be minimal and will only reach 63-centavos per kilowatt-hour. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)