Power barge to run 24/7 in coming summer season

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Monday, December 16, 2013

THE Therma Marine Incorporated (TMI), the Aboitiz company that runs a power barge, expects to run 24/7 in summer next year with long brownouts looming over Mindanao, an executive said.

Jovy P. Batiquin, TMI chief operating officer, said the waters in Mindanao's main hydroelectric sources, Lanao Lake and Pulangi River, are already below the rule curve as set by the National Power Corporation (Napocor).

He said the Lanao lake, as of December 10, is at around 700.2 meters above sea levels, which is below its rule curve of 700.4m; while Pulangi river is at 282.2 m.

"There is no water coming in. In order to address the increasing demands of the customers means they will be using the water early. And if that happens we will not have enough water for summer resulting to long brownouts in 2014. By then, we expect to be running in 24 hours to cater to the electricity demands," he said.

Batiquin said as early as now they are running more than 12 hours, which is their normal operational hours. He said they usually run the engines from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. or 10 p.m. but recently they begin at 7:30 a.m. and end up by 12 midnight.

"It is a very critical situation, there are so many industries coming in but there are no additional generation," he said, adding the earliest additional generation will come in late 2014 or early 2015 with the completion of Therma South Inc.'s 25 billion 300-megawatt (MW) CFB coal-fired power plant.

Batiquin said the energy crisis may be similar to the 2010 Mindanao Energy Crisis as early as February if there are no rains to fill up the lake or to run the Pulangi River.

"We had a small typhoon, Zoraida, but it did not rain so much to replenish the water in the lake and river. To have enough water for electricty generation, the levels of the water should remain in the rule curve," he said.

Batiquin said the only difference from 2010 is they are are using the water prudently since there are no rains coming in.

"2010 was a bad year we were running for 24hrs for 3 months on baseloads and we were running the two barges. Hopefully 2014 will not be like that," he said.

Batiquin said the government can now begin mitigation practices to covserve water like not generating too much so there is still enough water or they can start ordering fuels so they run the oil bunkers first and preserve the water for coming summer.

He said there is also a possibility of an increase in electricity prices with the implementation of the Interim Mimdanao Electricity Market.
"IMEM only activates when there is a discrepancy in supply and demand. The reason why the government is implementing this is they want to attact embedded generators. When summer 2014 comes and the demand is higher than the supply ,expect the embedded generators to come in and electricity prices will go up," he said.

Batiquin said the general public can help in preventing the brownouts and increase in electicity prices by conserving electricity. For example, if households iron their clothes in bulk you can save up to 1000 kilowatts per hour.

"Next year, our summer will be long, intense, and the cost of electricity will be high," he said.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on December 16, 2013.

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