Montenegro says Mindanao power situation expected to improve this month

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 01 August) — The power situation in Mindanao is expected to improve as some units of the power plants that have been shut down for preventive maintenance will be synchronized back to the grid this month, an official of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), said.

Romeo Montenegro, Director for Investment Promotion, International Relations and Public Affairs, said Units 3 and 4 of the Agus 6 with a combined capacity of 100 megawatts (MW) are expected to be back on the grid this month. However, there’s no definite schedule for the 25-MW unit 2 of Agus 6 after being forced to shut down due to generator problem.

The entire Agus-Pulangi Hydropower Complex has a total installed capacity of 827.2 but generated only 299 MW as of July 30.

The 54-MW unit 1 of Mt. Apo Geothermal Power Plants will be live by August 13. The unit 2 of Mt. Apo Geothermal also has an installed capacity of 54 MW.

The 105-MW unit 2 of STEAG will be online by August 16. The first unit of Steag also has 105-MW installed capacity.

Montenegro told reporters at the second day of Media Power 101 here on Friday that other units of the decades-old Agus-Pulangi are operating at only at 70 to 80 percent.

At the height of the power crisis in 2012, calls were issued to privatize Agus-Pulangi, which comprises 55 percent of Mindanao’s power supply but this was stalled after some legislators contested that it should not be privatized.

The Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) excluded Agus-Pulangi from privatization for 10 years from the time it was enacted in 2001.

The Power Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) then scheduled that it be privatized at least by 2017. However, privatization is still subject for approval by the congress.

Montenegro said they want to have a balanced power mix for Mindanao – 50 percent renewable energy and 50 percent fuel – rather than rely heavily on one source as a baseload. Baseload source are the powerplants that can run 24 hours and seven days a week.

Hydropower, for instance, relies on ample rainfall while coal is imported and depends on prices in the global market.

A total of 288 renewable energy projects are now in various stages of applications before regulatory agencies, he said.

The period of application for renewable energy project usually takes five to seven years, which is longer than coal’s two to three years.

Montenegro said they are assisting potential investors to encourage them to come in.

The One-Stop Facilitation and Monitoring Committee (OSFMC) was set up as one of the recommendations of the Mindanao stakeholders during the Mindanao Power Summit in April 2012 to address the clamor of investors for a more seamless application process.

The One-Stop Facilitation and Monitoring Web Portal was also set up so that investors can monitor their applications in a specific agency through real-time online updating of status.

On Thursday, some parts of Davao City suffered from three to four hours of rotational browouts after the Aboitiz Power implemented a forced shutdown of the unit 1 of Therma South Inc. (TSI) but was immediately synchronized to the grid by 10 a.m. on Friday.

The Aboitiz-owned Davao Light and Power Company announced mid-afternoon of Thursday, July 30 that due to the shortage in supply of power for distribution, it is “constrained to extend the length of the rotating power interruptions” to three to four hours until the situation improves.

It said that as of July 30, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) has declared a deficiency of power supply for Mindanao at 130 MW.

In Zamboanga City, where power outage reaches nine hours a day, the Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Zamcelco) said customers’ allocation from the National Power Corporation / PSALM has been adjusted “based on a deficiency of 90MW” due to a “reduced capacity of Pulangui 4 Hydroelectric Plan following a “clogged-up power intake,” among others.

The Zamcelco advisory also said the Mapalad Power Corp. is on a “planned outage for 34 days” from July 20, 2015 to August 22, 2015 “due to preventive maintenance activities.”

The Mapalad Power Corporation, owned by the Alsons Power Group, operates a 103-MW diesel power plant in Iligan City. The MPC plant provides power to Iligan City and other key cities of Mindanao including: General Santos, Zamboanga, Pagadian, Butuan and Bayugan.(Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)