ILIGAN CITY —    The continuous lowering of Lake Lanao’s water level triggers the Mindanao-wide load curtailment since February, said Elizabeth Ladaga of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).

Ladaga, corporate communications officer, said the load curtailment to its power customers was due to the generation deficiency and insufficient power supply resulting from reduced capabilities of hydro electric power plants and low water inflow from Lake Lanao.

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She said this was also due to the maintenance and shutdown of power generators.

Because of this, Ladaga said electric cooperatives and other electric company are also imposing rotating brownouts to its service areas.

In Iligan City, the residents are experiencing power interruption daily during peak hours from 10:00 in the morning until 10:00 in the evening.

Ladaga said the load curtailment would further prevent damage on power facilities of the Mindanao Grid.

Pedro Ambos, officer-in-charge of  the Operations and Planning department of the National Power Corporations -Mindanao Generation based in Ditucalan, Iligan City, said that as of February 9 at  6:00 a.m., the water level at Lake Lanao was at 699.34 meters and the curtailment level is at 699.15 meters.

Lake Lanao measures about 354 square kilometers and is one of the five ancient lakes of the world.

Ambos said the water elevation of Lake Lanao last year was 699.55 and the drawdown limit set by the Department of Envuironment and Natural Resources (DENR) Environment Compliance Certificate is only at 1.5 meters which means if it will go beyond such limit, all living habitat in Lake Lanao will gradually vanish as the heat temperature increases.

 

Because of this, he said the NPC controls the drawdown of water level which resulted to power load curtailment though NGCP, which transmits power supply throughout Mindanao.

 

Ambos said each hydro electric power plant has its own released installed capacity dependent to the water supply from Lake Lanao at critical level. For Agus -I from 80 mega watt (MW) reduced to 32 MW; Agus II 180MW to 60 MW; Agus IV 158MW to 120 MW; Agus V at total shudown due to repair of trash rack; Agus VI 200 MW to 141 MW; Agus VII 54 MW to 31MW; Pulangi HEP 255 MW to 135MW and power barge 104 in Davao which generates 32MW was reduced to 18 MW. The Independent Power Producers has 432 MW.

 

Ambos said the NPC has scheduled a Mindanao-wide load curtailment from Agus Hydro Electric Plant and Pulangi complex. As of Febuary 9 at 10:00 a.m., the total load curtailment reached 200 mega watts; at 1:00 p.m. at 300 MW and at 7:30 p.m. at 350 MW  which were distributed and scheduled to Davao, Cagayan de Oro City, General Santos City, Zamboanga provinces, Butuan and Iligan City.

 

Ambos also said the El Niño phenomenon that started early this year would further contribute to the load curtailment in the next few months especially during summer.

 

When asked to comment on Mindanao power outlook in the upcoming 2010 election, Engineer Joelito Manlawi, NGCP officer In-charge of Lanao district, said he could not describe the scenario by May since the power supply may vary.

 

Meanwhile, Representative Vicente Belmonte Jr. of the first district of Iligan City earlier passed House Resolution No. 1533 expressing his strong opposition on the sale and privatization of Agus and Pulangi hyrdo electric power complexes in Mindanao in 2011.

 

The NPC is now under the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Corporation and Belmonte said the privatization of NPC’s assets would lead to a free market trading under Republic Act No. 9136 known as the Electric Power Energy Reform Act of 2001, which he said would have a negative impact in the entire country as it failed to reduce the cost of electricity cost.

He said it also failed to lift the burden of the consumers because of the existence of Agus and Pulangi HEP, a competitive advantage which Mindanao can not afford to lose.

 

The said HEP plants invite investors to set up establishments which would generate employment and increase purchasing capacity of the people.

“This house bill is a wake up call for 2011,” Belmonte said.