DUE to the shortfall and the high power demand in the Visayas, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) ordered the Visayan Electric Co. (Veco) to implement brownouts last night.

Although Veco was able to supply power to its consumers the whole day yesterday, even when the demand went up to as high 278 to 280 megawatts (mw), it had to shut down power in some areas past 6 p.m. on orders of the NGCP as the demand for power rose, Veco spokersperson Ethel Natera said.

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She said this was the hour when most consumers were already home and began to use electricity.

Luzon, which was supposed to supply power to the Visayas, failed to meet the promised load.

Just before 7 p.m., power was restored in one part of Mandaue City, in downtown Cebu City, at the North Reclamation Area, in Barangays Mabolo, Luz and Kasambagan, Natera said.

The NGCP announced last Saturday a 200-mw power shortage in the Visayas for the next 10 days to conduct a preventive maintenance on the Mahanagdong geothermal power plant in Leyte.

Major power plants in Cebu will also not be able to supply demand because of maintenance work and lack of fuel.

Meanwhile, Gov. Gwendonly Garcia called on the business sector to do something about the power crisis.

Instead of raising fears of loss of investments, Garcia challenged the business sector to join Veco’s power shedding program called the interruptible load agreement.

The agreement gives incentives to companies that use their generator sets during peak hours.

“Do not curse the darkness, light a candle. Run your own generators because you have the capacity to produce your own power so that the ordinary consumer who does not have the capacity will not be burdened. Let’s do our own share in addressing this challenge,” the governor said in a press conference.

More than 20 companies have committed to the agreement.

Today, she will meet with representatives of power companies, agencies and the business sector to find a remedy to the poor power supply.

Garcia also invited Cemex, which started generating 10-mw of power interconnected with Veco, to help address the power shortage problem.

The activation yesterday of Cemex’s substation in the City of Naga is expected to give relief to power consumers.

Cebu leaders, headed by Garcia and key officials of Cemex Philippines and Veco formally switched on the substation at the Apo Cement Plant in Barangay Tinaan, Naga.

They hailed the Cemex-Veco interconnection project, saying it will partly cushion the impact of the power shortage within the Cebu-Negros-Panay (CNP) grid.

Garcia lauded the two firm’s efforts to address the power shortage in the province.

She said it will even be much better if Cemex imparted more of its excess power, which stems from the firm’s adopted energy efficiency measures.

The Cemex’s diesel fuel power plant can generate 66 mw, but uses only 40 mw for its internal power consumption.

The governor did the honor of switching on the symbolic substation board past 10 a.m.

Also, Garcia and four other officials—City of Naga Mayor Valdemar Chiong; Jaime Ruiz de Haro, Cemex president in Philippines and Asia; Erramon Aboitiz, Veco chairman of the board; and lawyer Paterno Acabodillo—locked their arms together, symbolizing unity and interconnection.

Through an interim power supply agreement, Cemex agreed to sell to Veco the 10-mw excess power during the day, based on the approved generation rate of the Energy Regulatory Commission.

In turn, Veco will provide Cemex with about 12 mw of electricity for Cemex’s night operations, where power demand of the CNP grid is less.

The Cemex substation is reportedly the first Veco-owned substation that adopts a switcher on its feeders for easy load transfer from Veco to Cemex plant or vice versa.

Veco, which needs a daily power demand of 350 mw, maximizes its power supply from 10 a.m. to noon, and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. because of daytime operations of factories and offices.

Aboitiz, for his part, said the ceremony was not merely a project inauguration, but it actually forged strategic ties between two firms for the public’s general welfare.

He considered it a “win-win” solution aimed at mitigating the insufficiency of power supply in Cebu.

“Today’s event is proof of our unwavering commitment to help address the needs of our neighbors and partners and very clearly shows Cemex’s faith in the Philippines and the Filipino people,” added de Haro, in his closing statement.

Apart from Cemex’s 10 mw, Veco will get an additional 35 mw quarterly supply from the Cebu Energy Development Corp. (CEDC), which establishes a 246-mw coal-fired power plant in Toledo City.

Cebu’s power supply will have its major boost once the 200-mw plant of Kepco-SPC Power Corp. in the City of Naga will be completed next year.

Garcia also reminded the public that two new plants will produce a total of 446 mw of power.

The CEDC has pledged an initial 82 megawatts of power to Veco by March.

Garcia promised to ask for updates from CEDC today.

Cebu Province is also getting an additional 15 megawatts through a Cebu-Panay power swap arrangement. (JGA/GC with CYR)