GenSan brownouts down to 2 hours

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 6 May) – The daily rotating outages here and parts of nearby South Cotabato and Sarangani provinces are now down just two hours as the area’s power supplies continue to stabilize in the last three days.

City Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio said Monday the area’s power deficit has dropped significantly since Friday due to the streaming of around 30 megawatts (MW) of additional power supplies that were recently contracted by distribution utility South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative (Socoteco II).

She said such augmentation enabled Socoteco II to reduce the area’s rotating brownouts by five hours or from the previous seven to just two hours.

“This is a huge relief for us and we’re hoping that our power situation will further stabilize in the coming days,” the mayor said.

Socoteco II was able to acquire the additional power supplies through new sales contracts with various power producers and companies with excess power reserves.

The forging of the sales deals were facilitated by the city government and the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA).

Custodio said among the deals they negotiated was for the augmentation of around 15 to 20 MW of combined power supplies to the area starting last May 3 by industrial firms Dole Philippines and Holcim as well as the Alcantara-owned Mapalad Power Corp. and Southern Philippines Power Corporation.

She said Socoteco II was able to acquire an additional 8 MW from a diesel-fired power plant in Davao City and 7 MW from the Aboitiz-owned Therma Marine Inc. (TMI).

Socoteco II was forced to implement rotational brownouts of seven hours in two settings daily for each of its two feeder groupings after its power deficit increased to around 40 MW in late February.

The electric cooperative, which lists an average daily peak demand of 112 MW, serves this city, the entire Sarangani Province and the municipalities of Tupi and Polomolok in South Cotabato.

The National Power Corporation (Napocor) is only supplying around 43 MW of power to Socoteco II out of their 52 MW contract for this year due to the reduced capacity of its hydroelectric plants in Bukidnon and the Lanao provinces.

TMI augments the area’s power requirements by 30 MW based on a power sale agreement it forged with Socoteco II two years ago.

The mayor earlier said the Philippine Economic Zone Authority issued a temporary permit that allowed companies located in declared special economic zones to sell their unused power allocations to entities outside their areas.

She said the issuance of the permit was an offshoot of the negotiations made by the local government with private companies in economic zones located within or near the city, among them pineapple giant Dole Philippines based in Polomolok town in South Cotabato, to allow Socoteco II to acquire their excess power supplies.

Custodio said the Energy Regulatory Commission also decided to cut down the processes involved in the approval of power sales contracts to help address the power crisis in Mindanao.

Meantime, Secretary Luwalhati Antonino, MinDa chairperson, said they are continually looking into some viable alternatives to help address Socoteco II’s power shortage.

She said her office has been negotiating with several power producers for the possibility of contracting more power supplies to the area.

“We received some assurance of additional supplies coming up. This means our brownouts here will only ease further in the coming days, if not totally eliminated,” Antonino added.