Power outages worsen as water levels in Lake Lanao, Pulangi dip

Power outages worsen as water levels in Lake Lanao, Pulangi dip

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/06 May) – Water in Lake Lanao and Pulangi River, Mindanao’s main sources of electric power, had reached record-low levels on Monday forcing power utilities to enforce six- to 10- hour rotational brownouts in almost all major cities in the island.

Ralph Paguio, vice president of the Cagayan Electric Power and Light Company (CEPALCO) said they were informed that the water level in Lake Lanao fell to 699.4 meters Monday, dangerously close to the critical level of 699.15 meters.

Paguio said this has forced CEPALCO, Cagayan de Oro’s major power distributor, to impose a 7.5-hour daily rotational brownout across the city starting Tuesday night.

The Pulangi River in Bukidnon, Mindanao’s second major source of electricity, has also almost dried up forcing the National Power Corporation (NPC) to shut down two of the three turbines in the Pulangi hydropower complex.

Mindanao is currently experiencing a 300-megawatt deficit in its power supply, according to Brian Diosma of the Mindanao Power Monitoring Committee (MPMC).

Diosma said Pulangi hydro plant, which normally generates around 265 MW, is only producing 60 MW as of Tuesday afternoon.

Elsewhere in Mindanao, Diosma said 12-hour rotational brownouts were imposed in parts of North Cotabato especially in the towns of Midsayap, Pikit and Aleosan.

Davao and General Santos cities are experiencing six-hour daily brownouts, according to data from MPMC.

Diosma said only the province of Agusan del Sur which bought a modular generating set is experiencing shorter brownouts. He said Bayugan city and other towns in Agusan del Sur are only experiencing two hours of brownouts every day.

“The entry of STEAG on Thursday will be the only welcome news. The power situation really needs the extra source of electricity,” Paguio said.

Steag State Power Inc. (SPI), which operates a 210-MW coal plant in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental, announced that its Unit 1 power generator will start supplying 105 MW to the Mindanao grid on Thursday.

Jerome Soldevilla , SPI communications officer said the second unit of power generator which is also capable of supplying another 105 MW, will resume operations on June 1.

Both generators of Steag were damaged and conked out during a Mindanao-wide fault last Feb. 27.

Soldevilla said their entry on Thursday will add 10 percent to the supply of electricity in Mindanao.

“We hope our entry can decrease the brownouts by two hours,” he said.

Paguio said Cagayan de Oro needs 140 MW a day but presently the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines and NPC only supply around 29 MW.

He said CEPALCO has other power sources like their 42-MW Minergy plant and are still looking for other sources.

He said they are also keeping an eye on an impending El Nino or dry spell as announced by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.

Diosma said they have already requested the Department of Argiculture to conduct cloud seeding operations over Lake Lanao and Pulangi River.

President Aquino created the MPMC through Executive Order 81 on August 2, 2012 to facilitate all initiatives aimed at improving the energy supply in the Mindanao.

Supervised by the Mindanao Development Authority, the other members of the MPMC are the Department of Energy, the Energy Regulatory Commission, National Electrification Administration, NPC and the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)