Appeal for Power

Article excerpt

BUTUAN CITY, Philippines - An appeal was aired Sunday by the Mindanao business community and the island's 33 electric cooperatives for President Benigno S. Aquino III to look into the power shortage that has resulted in regular and massive brownouts in the South.

The Association of Mindanao Rural Electric Cooperatives (AMRECO) and various business organizations and business chambers asked Aquino to seriously look into the status of the hydro-electric power plants in Pulangi and Agus in Bukidnon and Lanao, respectively.

AMRECO said the power supply shortage is not only due to the reduced generating capacity of the Agus and Pulangi hydroelectric plants, but also to the derating (or control) of other power plants operating in Mindanao.

The AMRECO said the two Therma Marine Inc. (TMI) power barges with a total capacity of 200 megaWatts (mW) in Mindanao are also not operating at full capacity, for reasons cited and justified by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).

Electric cooperatives (ECs) that have bilateral contracts with NGCP will not source out electricity from power barges even during a supply shortage, because they are avoiding the rate impact which is too high a price to be passed on to their customers.

"The Department of Energy (DOE) is looking at the possibility of issuing a circular to compel customers like EC's to contract out and nominate available power barges capacity of TMI. However, EC's are in a dilemma whether or not to do the same as now experienced as they are also avoiding the blame from their customers, so the issue is which or an issue of chicken and egg what's first born," said AMRECO president Sergio Dagooc.

Another reason of TMI reducing its capacity is the alleged expiration of its ancillary services procurement agreement (ASPA) with NGCP.

The AMRECO said the NGCP cannot really specify the reason for the deficiency - whether it was caused by maintenance shutdown of plants of power companies, reduced capacities of others or rising demand.

Because of the alarming situation and worsening power problem, Mindanao's organized electricity-distribution cooperatives have also called on the government to "act now and create a multi-sectoral committee" to investigate the operations of Agus and Pulangi hydropower.

"The situation is really disturbing, and everybody now is concerned about the Mindanao power problem," said Dagooc, also general manager of Dinagat Islands and Siargao Islands Electric Cooperatives.

He said the DOE, as a remedial measure, declared that it will deploy inland fossil plant barges that have only the capacity of 40mW to 45 MW from the Visayas and Luzon to address the already worsening power shortage in Mindanao. …