In the dark-A A +A
By Jun Ledesma
Monday, March 12, 2012
IT STILL rains during night time brought about by easterly wind but it is not as copious as it used to. Davao climate is characterized by an even distribution of rainfall throughout the year and this explains why we are quite distinct from the rest of the region in the country.
Not every region in Mindanao enjoys this fourth type of weather. Water recedes in Lake Lanao and Polangi which causes the power output of hydropower plants in these places to also diminish. But where the need for electricity not receding anywhere because of progress and development even the maximum power generation from Agus and Polangi is simply not just enough. Only the myopic non-government organizations think that power supply in Mindanao is sufficient.
Therma Marine Inc. had somehow anticipated the power shortage but the best that they can do is only to relocate two floating emergency generators to Mindanao. They were strategically located in Maco, Comval province and I think in Nasipit, Agusan del Norte. Each of these has a 100 megawatt capacity. Much of the generated capacity from these two units had already been, if not fully, contracted.
The present power shortage in Mindanao is a supply issue. Since TMI had already farmed out all its generated capacity to other utilities and electric coops, this should give some jitters because despite the assist of TMI some areas are now suffering not less than one hour brownouts.
In Mindanao, the only utility and coop which is not threatened by power shortage is Davao Light and Power Company and Davao del Sur Electric Coop. It's simply because Davao Light is a sister company of TMI and Dasureco is assured of the power supply generated from the hydropower plants of Hedcor.
Funny, but some utilities and coops are blaming TMI for the problem that they are beset with. Other quarters also blame the company as if TMI has any obligation to supply all the power needed in Mindanao. We have to put a stop to this insanity and face the real issue squarely.
Years back, there were plans to tap thermal energy from Mt. Apo and elsewhere. It took some time to set up one but because of the opposition from non-government organization it did not maximize its capacity.
Recently, I talked to one of the NGOs spokesman who joined the opposition. He expressed remorse that he joined the environmentalist militants because he found out later that contrary to their claims the area where the thermal plant operates has now the most well-preserved environment.
We cannot stop development. Mindanao, in particular, is still in its infancy as far as development is concerned. Power is an important component that revs the engine of development. I find it therefore disturbing that the chief development planner for Mindanao, Sec. Lualhati Antonino, has not awaken from the stupor which she shares with some so-called environment watchdogs who peddle the idea that we have sufficient power supply in Mindanao.
To put it rather bluntly and simply, even if Agus and Pulangi hydropower capacity isn’t affected by drought, repair and maintenance work, the maximum output of these two major sources of power is no longer sufficient for the present needs of Mindanao. Unless, development stagnates or retreats then Secretary Antonino could be correct. However, for as long as she is doing her job to lure capitalists to Mindanao as head of the Mindanao Development Authority, nothing will be on a standstill.
Let's not fool ourselves and live in a disquieting state of denial. Last year, billions of new capital investments were poured in Davao City alone. Three malls were added; new high-rise condominiums are being constructed, several subdivision developers offer upper, middle and low-cost housing units. By rough estimates, owing to rapid development and progress migration into the city cannot be stopped, thus needing about 45,000 units annually. Business Process Outsourcing sprouts like mushrooms while underground economy is as healthy as the legit ones. I have lost count of the number of new hotels that had been erected and are still being constructed.
In the political base of the Antoninos in General Santos City, Sarangani and South Cotabato provinces, similar dynamism in the growth of industries, trade and commerce cannot be ignored. There are big malls that are about to be finished. I am not counting yet the burgeoning mining industry.
No looming power crisis? Anyone who says that must be in the dark.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 13, 2012.