Brownouts continue in Davao City

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 7 Dec) – The franchise area of Davao Light and Power Company (DLPC), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Aboitiz Power Corp., will continue to suffer from rotational brownouts even as the first unit of Therma South Inc. (TSI) with a 150-megawatt generating capacity had been synchronized back to the Mindanao grid at 12:11 a.m. on Monday, an official said.

DLPC’s Luga at the Kapehan sa Dabaw. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

Speaking at the Kapehan sa Dabaw at SM City, Rossano C. Luga, assistant vice president for Reputation Enhancement Department Administration of DLPC, said the outages lasting up to one hour were blamed to the power curtailment of at least 100MW in the Mindanao grid on Monday from 80 MW last December 2, as announced by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).

DLPC’s franchise area also covers some parts of Davao del Norte, including Panabo City, Dujali and Sto. Tomas municipalities.

The Aboitiz Power Corp.’s TSI 1 was back online after it went under more than two weeks of emergency shutdown since November 22 while the 105MW unit of the STEAG coal-fired power plant in Misamis Oriental, which underwent a preventive maintenance shutdown, caused the shortage.

At least 50MW out of its 150MW generating capacity goes to DLPC but as of Monday it can only deliver 34MW. Its second unit, which has the same generating capacity and 50MW contracted power to DLPC, will be commissioned in March 2016.

This could have improved the power situation within DLPC’s franchise area if not for the power curtailment that resulted from another emergency shutdown of one of the power plants of the decades-old Agus-Pulangui hydropower complex and its reduced generating capacity, Luga said.

“To prevent total breakdown of the Mindanao-grid, the NGCP will implement manual load dropping within the franchise once the demand for power exceeds with what is being supplied. Hence, the implementation of these rotating service disruptions,” a DLPC statement read.

Luga said the DLPC’s requirement peaks at 355MW on a daily basis but the National Power Corporation (NPC), which supplies the biggest chunk of the power utility’s contracted energy, can only deliver 108MW during off peak (10 p.m. to 8 a.m. of the following day) and 186MW during peak hours (8 a.m. to 10 p.m.) out of the 274MW. Its daily requirement ranges from 350 to 355MW.

When there is insufficient power in the Mindanao Grid, DLPC will tap its standby Bajada Diesel Power Plant with a sustained capacity of 40MW. DLPC has also contracted from Hedcor’s Tudaya 1 with 6.6MW and the 42.5MW of Sibulan A and B in Davao del Sur.

As of 1:06 p.m. on Monday, the NGCP noted an excess of 35MW in Mindanao.

Luga, however, said the surplus indicates a very thin margin which cannot ensure that there will be no brownouts because the energy consumption varies every hour.

4 more power plants in 2016

During a forum on the Mindanao Energy Plan and the impacts of El Niño on the Mindanao power sector at the Pinnacle Hotel and Suites last November 23 at Pinnacle Hotel and Suites, Engr. Noriel Christopher Reyes, science research specialist II at the Department of Energy’s Electric Power Industry Management, announced that four units of coal-fired power plants with a combined power capacity of 550MW will be connected to the Mindanao grid in the first half of 2016.

This is seen to hush up the power supply in Mindanao and cushion the impact of El Niño that will greatly affect the hydro plants that supply 55 percent of Mindanao’s energy mix at present.

Two coal-fired plants will start in the first quarter: the 150MW unit of Therma South Inc., a subsidiary of Aboitiz Power, in Binugao, Toril in Davao City; and the 100MW unit of the Sarangani Energy Corporation in Maasim, Sarangani Province.

The San Miguel Power Corporation will start commercial operation of its two power plants, each having a capacity of 150MW, in the second quarter, according to Reyes.

From November 2015 to February 2016, he said, the impact of El Niño will be more evident with a projected power deficiency placed at 100-200MW.