Alsons power plants in Mindanao on full alert during polls

KORONADAL CITY(MindaNews/10 May)—The power generation units of the Alcantara Group in Mindanao have been instructed to be on full alert to ensure stable electricity supply to the Mindanao grid during Monday’s national midterm and local elections, company executives said.

Edgar Sevilles, Alsons Power Group vice president for operations, said that its operating power facilities in Mindanao “will be on full alert and ready to respond to any power related contingency during the crucial period starting 12 a.m. Sunday (May 12), the day before the May 13 polls, until 12 a.m. Tuesday (May 14).”

“All leaves for plant personnel have been cancelled and all essential operations personnel will be on duty during this time,” he said in a statement emailed to MindaNews.

The Alcantara Group operates the 100-megawatt (MW) Western Mindanao Power Corp. (WMPC), the 55-MW Southern Philippines Power Corp. (SPPC) and the recently acquired 102-MW Mapalad Power Corp. (MPC).

All these power plants are run by diesel fuel.

Sevilles said that measures have been taken to ensure that fuel supply for the power plants will be adequate during the period.

He added that all engines of the power plants will be on a “hot mode and ready to address any contingency related to the power supply within the areas of coverage of the three facilities.”

WMPC began its operation in 1997 and is located in Zamboanga City, SPPC started in 1998 in Alabel, Sarangani province and MPC is based in Iligan City.

WMPC and SPPC supply power to the Mindanao grid under an 18 year Energy Conversion Agreement with the National Power Corp.

MPC began operating in a ramp-up basis last month after it was formally acquired by the Alsons Group in March from the Iligan City government.

Oscar Benedict Contreras III, Alsons Power Business Unit manager for communications and stakeholder relations, said the MPC can provide at least 10 MW to the Mindanao grid during the election as the facility is still being prepared to go full blast.

“We will prioritize Iligan City during the elections being the host of MPC,” he said on the phone.

Contreras said that MPC is scheduled to go in to full commercial operations in September.

Sevilles said that in the crucial days before and after the elections, Alsons’ power plants will be in constant coordination with the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), the NPC, and the Department of Energy.

Mindanao has been beset by lack of power supply since the start of the year due to increasing demand and lack of new generating capacities in the island, resulting in daily power outages lasting up to eight hours in some parts of the island but have lately improved.

Milfrance Capulong, NGCP communications officer for Mindanao, said that power deficiency in the island stood at 209 MW as of 6 p.m. Thursday.

As of 4 p.m. Thursday, the Mindanao grid had a capacity of 1,151, NGCP’s website showed.

The government has stepped in to improve the power shortfall in the island, and among the short-term solutions it pushed is the purchase of diesel-fed modular generator sets. (Bong S. Sarmiento/MindaNews)