Rotating brownouts to return to Surigao Norte

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/23 May)– Residents and businesses in Surigao del Norte will have to brace for recurring daily brownouts after enjoying uninterrupted power supply since the May 13 elections, an official said.

“We expect another round of brownouts a few days from now,” Danny Escalante, general manager of the Surigao del Norte Electric Cooperative (Surneco), told reporters on Wednesday.

As of noon Wednesday, he said that there has been no load curtailment advisory from the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines for Surneco’s service area.

“There were already several cooperatives that have implemented rotational brownouts. We do not know why this has not been implemented here,” Escalante said.

Surigao del Norte has a supply deficiency of five megawatts (MW) during peak demand, which is pegged at 26 (MW).

Therma Marine Inc. (TMI) currently supplies Surneco with eight MW from last month’s six. The state-run National Power Corp. (NPC) also provides the distribution utility with 13 MW from last month’s 10.

Because of the power shortfall, Surneco could not serve mining companies Silangan Mining Corp. and Greenstone Resource Corp., which consume five MW each, Escalante said.

He said the interruptible load program pushed by the Department of Energy would have been an option but only two large companies have their own generator sets – Gaisano Capital and Pacific Cement Corporation (PACEMCO).

But PACEMCO is limited to only serving “its day-to-day office operations and not its plant operations,” he added.

Escalante said the proposal to tap excess power from the 48 MW coal-fired power plant of Taganito HPAL (THPAL) has been trashed by Japan’s Sumitomo, the former’s owner and developer of the nickel processing plant.

Sumitomo has acquired a stake at Nickel Asia Corp., the country’s largest nickel mining group.

“Their plant was basically built to serve them and it will be another expense if you try to get it out and connect to our transmission lines,” Escalante said.

THPHAL needs only 40 MW for its operation and it has an excess of eight MW, he added.

Escalante said they will employ modular generator sets as another option to fill the supply shortfall.

Energy Secretary Carlos Petilla had issued “a marching order for the modular generator sets to be in place by November,” he said.

It is expected to provide additional 10 MW to Surneco’s supply. (Vanessa Almeda/MindaNews)