Mindanao grid has sufficient reserves to prevent blackouts during Agus-Pulangui hydro plants rehab

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 26 Oct) – The Mindanao grid has sufficient reserves to prevent rotating blackouts when rehabilitation works of the decades-old Agus-Pulangui Hydroelectric Power Complex start next year.

The Agus VI hydroelectric plant at the foot of Maria Cristina Falls in Iligan City. MindaNews file photo by BOBBY TIMONERA, agus, pulangui

Romeo Montenegro, executive director of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), told MindaNews Thursday that the Mindanao grid has an excess supply to cover the loss when the hydroelectric plants undergo preventive maintenance.

The aging plants have been generating power at 589.26 megawatts (MW) or 60 percent of its 982.1 MW installed capacity, he said.

“Given the supply excess that Mindanao enjoys today, now is the right time to have the Agus rehab undertaken. We happen to have more than enough margin from coal fired capacity, hence, no brownouts are expected even when the Agus hydro plants go into preventive maintenance shutdown to give way for rehab works,” Montenegro said.

Based on National Grid Corporation of the Philippines’s power situation outlook on Friday, the Mindanao grid has a system capacity of 2,566 megawatts (MW) and a consumption of 1,740 MW. This leaves Mindanao with a reserve of 826 MW.

The rehabilitation will bring the plants’ capacity factor to about 80 percent, Montenegro said.

Majority of the hydro power source comes from the state-run Agus-Pulangui Hydroelectric Power Complex, composed of seven hydroelectric plants: Agus 1, Agus 2, Agus 4, Agus 5, Agus 6, and Agus 7 in the Lanao provinces and Pulangui 4 in Bukidnon.

The rehabilitation would cost about $1 billion or about P53.78 billion to be sourced through foreign loans, Montenegro said.

He said plans for privatization would have to take a backseat in the immediate term because of the objection of the Mindanawon lawmakers and the recent development in the signing of RA 11054 or the Organic Law for the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao

The future Bangsamoro government will have a jurisdiction over the government’s power assets within the Bangsamoro territory, he said. Agus 1 in Marawi City and Agus 2 in Saguiaran, Lanao del Sur are within the ARMM.

But Montenegro added that the Mindanao Energy Plan sets strategies and policy recommendations to attract more renewable energy projects in Mindanao.

“The kind of energy projects that investors will pursue is dependent on many factors – one is viability of return of investments and second is policy and regulatory processes. That’s why, if it’s difficult and challenging for investors to go through regulatory approvals for renewable energy, the more that they will be attracted to developing fossil technology such as coal,” he said.

He said more coal-fired power plants had been built in Mindanao in the last five years because the “processes are not as tedious and cumbersome compared to the renewable energy requirements.”

Montenegro said they are exploring possibility of providing more incentives to the development of renewable energy in Mindanao.

He said the combined capacity of pending power projects with MinDA’s One-Stop Facilitation totaled 3,000 MW.

“These are small scale bite-size power projects 5 MW, 10 MW, 20 MW hydro, biomass and solar. Our focus is to be able to move this up to the next stage so it gets implemented,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)