LOCAL power distributor, Davao Light and Power Company, admitted Tuesday afternoon that there is not enough power for Davao City and its environs.

A load curtailment imposed by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), following the non-availability of generating units, power plant shutdown, and plants undergoing preventive maintenance, has affected the supply of the city.

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DLPC vice president for engineering Rodger Velasco said the load curtailment imposed for Davao City was at 670 megawatts.

"The load curtailment imposed on Davao Light by the NGCP exceeds the capability of our Bajada Power Plant," Velasco said. "Hence, we have to drop loads and rotate brownouts for 30 minutes within our franchise area."

Based on official data, the Bajada Power Plant of DLPC can only carry up to 53 megawatts for short durations and up to 40 megawatts for continuous load. The Bajada Power Plant, which is usually used only during power outages from the Mindanao Grid, has been running the past two weeks already.

The situation is expected to last until the end of February or until the power generating plants of NGCP are up and running again.

Key cities in Mindanao have started experiencing power shortages, especially as the summer months approach, doubled with the prevailing mild El Niño phenomenon which is expected to cause severe hot weather.

At present, the Mindanao power grid is already on a "red alert status."

As of February 10, 2010, the NGCP declared that there is already zero contingency power reserve due to the generation deficiency of the power plants.

Due to the nature of major power plants in Mindanao, which is reliant on hydro power, the effects of El Niño are already taking its toll on the volatile power situation with water elevation of the two major sources of hydroelectric power in Mindanao -- Lake Lanao in Lanao del Sur and Pulangi River in Bukidnon -- already on a "critical level."

The Agus and Pulangi plants have reduced its power production by 50 and 75 percent respectively due to the low water inflow. Rotating brownouts are expected to occur.

Reports showed that the shutdown of the Unit 2 of the Agus hydroelectric power plant in Iligan City and the second unit of the Mindanao coal-fired power plant, which produces 110 megawatts, contributed to the power deficiency.

Compounding these is the outage of the Unit 5 of the Agus hydroelectric power plant, also in Lanao del Sur, which has been reduced by 28 megawatts. The capacity of the Unit 1 of the Agus was also reduced from 80 megawatts to 30 megawatts.

The neighboring cities of Davao City, like General Santos City, wherein tuna processing takes place, has also been affected by the power shortage with the General Santos Area Control Center (GSACC) or the Southwestern Mindanao District experiencing a decrease in power supply by as much as 32 megawatts daily.

These have reduced the capacity of the supply network going to General Santos City and other parts of southwest Mindanao.

In Zamboanga City, the Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative has urged its consumers to brace themselves for an even more critical power crisis in the next three or four years if no additional power plants can supply power into the Mindanao Grid.

This has also affected other power cooperatives in Central Mindanao, including the South Cotabato Elective Cooperative 1 and 2, Maguindanao Electric Cooperative, Cotelco-Palma, Cotelco-Main, and Sultan Kudarat Electric Cooperative. (CPM/Sunnex)