Socoteco eyes acquisition of 15-MW diesel-fired modular genset

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/3 April)– Distribution utility South Cotabato I Electric Cooperative (Socoteco I) is planning to acquire a 15-megawatt (MW) diesel-fired modular generator set to offset the projected power shortage in the area when its three-year supply contract with the National Power Corporation (Napocor) expires in August.


Engr. Santiago Tudio, Socoteco I general manager, said they are set to negotiate with the Department of Energy (DoE) and the National Electrification Administration (NEA) for a loan arrangement that will allow the cooperative to purchase the generator set.


“We had long been planning to acquire a modular generator set. Now here’s an opportunity for us to acquire one with the government’s help so we’ll do it,” he told MindaNews yesterday.


Tudio said they decided to acquire a modular generator set to counter the impact of the expected reduction by 10 MW of the area’s power allocation from the Napocor by August.


Socoteco I serves Koronadal City, eight municipalities in South Cotabato and Lutayan town in Sultan Kudarat.


The electric cooperative’s daily power allocation from the Napocor reaches around 27 MW or 7 MW short of its 34 MW contract.


But Socoteco I’s daily peak demand only reaches around 32 MW, making its deficit at just 5 MW.


Tudio said the electric cooperative has a standby supply of 4 MW from its power sales deal with Aboitiz-owned Therma Marine Inc.


“Right now, our daily rotating brownouts only last about an hour but it might reach seven hours by August,” he said.


Napocor has started to reduce its power allocation to electric cooperatives in Mindanao last year due to the declining generation capacity of its hydroelectric plants in Bukidnon and Lanao del Norte.


Several areas in Mindanao, including this city, have been experiencing prolonged rotating brownouts lasting as high as seven hours since January due to the worsening power shortage in the island’s power grid.


The shortage was mainly blamed on the declining water inflow at the hydroelectric plants due to lack of rains since last month and the ongoing rehabilitation of several power plant complexes.


Based on the power situation outlook released by the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines for Wednesday, Mindanao grid’s system capacity is presently at 972 MW or 118 MW short of the area’s system peak of 1147 MW.


As alternative solution to the problem, the DoE has offered a loan scheme that will allow electric cooperatives in Mindanao acquire their own modular generator sets.


Under the scheme, which will be coursed through NEA, Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said electric cooperatives will be given a grace period of two years wherein they will only be required to pay for the loan’s interest.


After two years, he said the cooperatives will have an option to pay for the loan principal and interest or completely waive any further payment by returning the generator sets to NEA. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)