Diesel gensets lessen brownouts in SouthCot, S. Kudarat

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 4 Oct) – The prolonged daily rotational brownouts affecting this city and parts of South Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat provinces since last month have finally eased in the last two days with the streaming of around 12 megawatts (MW) of additional power to the area.

Santiago Tudio, South Cotabato 1 Electric Cooperative (Socoteco 1) general manager, said they formally commissioned their leased 12-MW diesel-fired generator sets on Thursday morning to offset the area’s power deficit, which has triggered daily rotational outages lasting five to six hours.

“At the worst, our brownouts will now only last around an hour,” he said in a briefing.

Tudio said they decided to utilize the generator sets after the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) issued a provisional authority for its applied rates and charges.

He said such authority allows the electric cooperative to charge its customers for the use of the generator sets pending the approval of the four-year power sales agreement that it signed last May with the Alcantara Group’s Conal Holdings Corporation.

Tudio said the Mapalad Power Corporation (MPC), which is controlled by Conal Holdings, completed the installation earlier this week of the power station for the generator sets at the electric cooperative’s sub-station in Barangay Morales here.

He said the power station consists 13 units of Cummins brand diesel generator sets and auxiliaries with total installed capacity of 1,070 kilowatts each; four units each of transformers and four diesel fuel tanks; a unit each of control tower, switch gear and oil and water separator; two units of 1,000 cubic meter-capacity water tanks; and a unit each of workshop, office and transmission line for the Socoteco 1 sub-station.

The MPC has contracted generator supplier Aggreko Plc to manage the operations of the power station, he said.

Socoteco 1 started implementing daily rotating brownouts lasting five to six hours last September 1 after its power deficit reached around 12 MW.

The electric cooperative serves Koronadal City, eight towns in South Cotabato province and the municipality of Lutayan in Sultan Kudarat. The area’s daily peak power demand is pegged at 33.6 MW.

Tudio said that since its three-year supply contract with the National Power Corporation (NPC) expired in late August, the latter’s power allocation to the area has so far dropped to 18 MW from the previous 32 to 33 MW.

He said the Aboitiz-owned Therma Marine Inc. is augmenting the area’s supplies by 3-4 MW.

The electric cooperative initially adjusted the area’s brownouts to just one hour daily in the third week of September but it worsened anew following the toppling late last week of a transmission tower of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) in Kabacan, North Cotabato.

NGCP completed the repairs on the damaged lines on Thursday, restoring the normal flow of power supplies to the area.

Tudio said the generator sets will run for eight hours daily, especially during the peak hours of the area’s power demand.

He said the peak hours, wherein the area’s power demand reaches the 33 MW level, are from 5 to 10 p.m.

“By that time most offices and establishments are closing down already but our power demand still shoots up because 82 percent of our customers are residential,” he explained.

With the utilization of the generator sets, Tudio initially pegged an increase of P1.60 per kilowatt-hour (kwh) to the area’s basic rates, which presently average around P6 per kwh.

He said the additional charges will be reflected on the electric bills of consumers by the next billing or in November.

Meantime, a team sent by the ERC to inspect the leased modular generators expressed satisfaction on Thursday over the compliance by their operator Aggreko Plc to government regulations.

Eddie Cudal, ERC’s senior energy regulations officer, told MindaNews that Aggreko has already complied with all the requirements necessary for the operation of the modular generator sets.

“Everything is in place so far and we’re recommending the issuance of the COC (certificate of compliance) to Aggreko for this project,” he said.

Aggreko, which is a multinational company specializing on the lease or rental of generation units, was earlier given by ERC two months to comply with the requirements for the issuance of the COC.