ZAMBOANGA CITY -- The construction of a coal-powered plant here is seen as the best answer to the city’s power needs following recent problem on supply and outages, a lawyer said Thursday.

Power supply in Mindanao will still be problem as water levels in hydro power plants continue to drop.

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Attorney Vicente Solis said the proposal of the Conal Holdings Corporation to build a coal power plant will not only help ease the energy problem of the city but also benefit the public because it is environmental-friendly.

Solis said the local government officials should support the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) entered into by the Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative (Zamcelco) and Conal Holdings for the construction of the power plant to solve the growing power needs here.

Zamboanga City had been experiencing rotational brownouts for the past weeks since the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) has implemented the power load shedding, he said.

The hydroelectric power plants in the Mindanao Grid have reduced generation by at least 50 percent of their total capacity due to low water inflow of Lake Lanao and Pulangi River, which was caused by the onset of the dry spell, said NGCP.

Solis said the MOA signing is “only the initial step of Zamcelco in solving the problem of power shortage since the Conal Holdings’ proposal will have to pass several levels of approval before its implementation.”

Power shortage

NGCP reported Thursday that most hydroelectric power plant units in Mindanao are running with limited capabilities due to the low water levels at Lake Lanao. These plants include Agus 1 with 25 megawatt (MW), Agus 2 (60 MW), Agus 4 (75 MW), Agus 6 (100 MW), Agus 7 (24 MW), and Pulangi 4 (80 MW), NGCP said.

The report further stated that Mindanao's power deficiency increased further to 218 megawatt (MW) after its available capacity was placed at 962MW as against the peak demand of 1,180MW.

Aside from Mindanao, NGCP said power supply situation in Visayas is also not improving.

The transmission firm said Visayas is still lacking 81MW after its available capacity was only 1,099 compared to peak demand of 1,180MW.

"Because of the generation deficiency in Visayas and Mindanao, electricity supply may not be enough to meet the demand of all power grid users," added NGCP.

NGCP said they are hoping that power situation in Mindanao will improve soon as the Agus 5 Unit is now undergoing test for its upcoming operations and the Power Barge (PB) 117 is expected to come online by March 1.

“If we will not act now to solve the problem, then we will expect the city to experience shortage of power in the coming years,” Solis said adding: “We should put our acts together or else it will be too late.”

Solis said the construction of the coal-fired power plant will only serve the consumers in Zamboanga City once it is in place. (Bong Garcia/ MSN/Sunnex)