GenSan brownouts now at 7 to 8 hours

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 8 May) – Power consumers here and in parts of Sarangani and South Cotabato provinces are bracing for a repeat of the seven to eight hours of daily rotational brownouts that hit the area last year after local distribution utility South Cotabato II Electric Cooperative (Socoteco II) posted on Thursday its biggest power supply deficit in the last 12 months.

In an advisory, Socoteco II said the area’s power supplies have dropped to 77 megawatts (MW) after the National Power Corporation (NPC) further slashed its allocation to the area to only 10 MW as a result of the declining capacity of its hydroelectric plants in Bukidnon and Lanao provinces.

The NPC used to supply 40 to 45 MW of power to the electric cooperative, which lists a daily peak demand of 120 to 130 MW.

Socoteco II serves this city, the entire Sarangani province and the towns of Tupi and Polomolok in South Cotabato.

Aside from NPC, the electric cooperative draws 28 MW from Aboitiz Power Corporation’s Therma Marine Inc., 27 MW from the Alcantara Group’s Mapalad Power Corporation and 12 MW from the modular generator sets that it leased from SoEnergy Philippines (International) Inc.

“Socoteco II has been experiencing continued reduction of power supply allocation. The total available supply of 77 MW falls short (by 43 MW) against its (minimum) peak demand of 120 MW. With this, the previously released schedule of four hours [of brownouts] may be increased if the situation continues to worsen,” the advisory said.

The electric cooperative was referring to the four-hour curtailment schedule that it released earlier this week when its deficit was only about 20 to 25 MW.

From April to May last year, Socoteco II was forced to implement seven- to eight-hour daily rotational brownouts due to a severe power shortage that affected the entire Mindanao grid then.

Meantime, city officials remain confident that the rotating outages in the area would eventually ease and with the situation returning to normal.

“The DOE (Department of Energy) has been working hard to address our situation and we’re confident that this (brownouts) will not take long this time,” said Mayor Ronnel Rivera.

Speaking before delegates of the 17th National Dairy Congress and Expo here, the mayor said they expect the brownouts to finally end by the second quarter of 2015 with the operationalization of additional power plants in Mindanao.

He said they expect the 20.9 MW bunker-fired power plant being constructed by Peak Power Energy Inc., which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of A Brown Co. Inc., to go on stream early next year.

“That will be an additional 20 MW of embedded power for Socoteco II,” Rivera said.

Before the end of 2015, the mayor said they expect the Sarangani Energy Corporation’s 200 MW coal-fired power plant in nearby Maasim town in Sarangani to commence operations.

Based on a power sales agreement approved in 2012 by the Energy Regulatory Commission, Sarangani Energy would supply Socoteco II with 70 MW of base load power in a 25-year period.

“Basically, we will have stable power by 2015 and these would be more than enough power to supply the requirements, not only of the city, but of the entire Region 12,” Rivera added.