MinDA eyes electricity market  by June 2017

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 07 December) —  The electricity market in Mindanao that will reportedly address the electricity oversupply in the island grid is expected to be operationalized by June 2017, an official of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) said.

MinDA deputy executive director Romeo Montenegro told a press conference on Wednesday that they will engage the distribution utilities and the 33 electric cooperatives in a series of training and capacity building sessions starting next year to educate them on how the electricity market works.

He said the Mindanao grid will follow the rules set for the now defunct Interim Mindanao Electricity Market (IMEM) but with some modifications to efficiently address oversupply.

He said  the IMEM was set up in 2013 to provide a mechanism where energy players can sell off their extra capacities to help other distribution utilities fill in the supply gap.

The IMEM was suspended in February 2014 due to “system collapse in Mindanao” and the need to “resolve operational and commercial issues and concerns.”

Even after the market is operationalized, Montenegro said the electric cooperatives will continue existing supply contracts with power generators that are locked in for a period of 25 years.

He said they will only tap the market in situations where there are lost capacities that are not forecasted.

Montenegro added that distribution utilities and power cooperatives should not heavily rely on the electricity market, explaining that the unstable market price may affect them adversely.

He said he cannot also ascertain if there would be zero brownout with the electricity market in place because it will depend on the portfolio of power players and their capacities to buy power from the market.

He said they will assist electric cooperative sin terms of capacity-building and infrastructure requirements, most especially in Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), so that they will be able to participate in the electricity market.

Montenegro also said they are studying whether to give the management rights of the electricity market to private-run Power Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC) or the Association of Mindanao Rural Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AMRECO).

He said the electricity market is a prerequisite to be able to link up Mindanao with Luzon and Visayas grids for the nationwide Wholesale Electricity Supply Market (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindNews)