SouthCot rep wants probe of renewed rotational brownouts

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 3 March) – South Cotabato Rep. Ferdinand Hernandez (Second Dist.) will push for a congressional investigation into the renewed long rotational brownouts that have been affecting parts of Mindanao since last week.

Hernandez said Monday he will ask leaders of the House of Representatives to set an inquiry over the latest spate of three- to eight-hour daily brownouts that came after a Mindanao-wide power outage last Thursday.

He said the move is aimed to determine the real cause of the outages and determine the necessary interventions by government agencies.

“These brownouts are quite alarming already so we really need to get into the bottom of the problem and address it,” he said in a radio interview.

Hernandez, who is a former trade and tourism assistant secretary, said the brownouts have so far started to take its toll on local residents, especially the business sector.

He said a number of businesses have been experiencing huge losses due to the impact of the brownouts and the use of fuel-fed generators.

Among the areas hit hardest by the continuing brownouts are this city and parts of Region 12. The region comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

Power supply in many parts of Mindanao was cut off for several hours last Thursday due to the reported tripping at the Agus 1 hydroelectric plant in Marawi City, according to the Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).

The DOE and NGCP noted that the power failure started from a faulty breaker in the switchyard of Agus 1. The breaker or the switchyard links a power plant to the transmission network.

The NGCP has since restored power transmission in various parts of Mindanao but it said the area is presently experiencing a supply deficit of 300 to 450 megawatts (MW).

Prior to the Mindanao-wide outage last Thursday, the company placed the island’s power reserve at 2 MW.

But based on its power situation outlook for Monday, it said Mindanao’s system capacity is only at 963 MW or 326 MW short of its system peak of 1,289 MW.

As a result of the deficit, the South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative (Socoteco II) was forced to implement rotating brownouts lasting three hours daily for its four feeder groupings in the last three days.

Socoteco II serves this city, the seven municipalities of Sarangani Province and the towns of Polomolok and Tupi in South Cotabato.

In Socoteco I’s franchise area, which covers Lutayan town in Sultan Kudarat, Koronadal City and eight municipalities of South Cotabato, the electric cooperative has been implementing daily rotating outages of three to five hours.

Santiago Tudio, Socoteco I general manager, said Monday they could not say as to when they would implement the rotating brownouts.

But he said they are currently working for the release by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) of the certificate of compliance (COC) for their leased 12-MW diesel-fired modular generator sets.

Tudio said ERC officials gave their go-signal last Thursday for the temporary use of the generator sets pending the release of COC but its operator, Aggreko Inc., and Mapalad Power Corporation (MPC) decided against it.

“We might still get slapped with a show cause order by ERC and possibly get fined or even imprisoned for it so we just decided to wait for the issuance of the COC,” he said.

Socoteco 1 initially commissioned the generator sets in October last year but was stopped by the NGCP due to the lack of a grid plan and the delayed issuance of the COC from the ERC.

Tudio said they were advised by the legal department of the Alcantara-controlled MPC that the ERC will finally deliberate this week the “possible issuance” of the COC for the generator sets.

In this city, Socoteco II has not been able to utilize its leased 15-MW generator sets from operator SoEnergy Philippines Inc. since its installation in September last year due to permitting problems.