WITH hydro plants generating at a very low level in Mindanao, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) reported that it has reduced by 400 megawatts the power being transmitted to the Mindanao grid.

NGCP said the load curtailment or power supply reduction starts at 1 p.m. Tuesday until 10 p.m.

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“The continuing generation deficiency in the Mindanao grid has compelled the system to curtail the power load transmitted to grid customers,” it said.

It further explained that the generation deficiency occurs when the electricity supply generated from power plants is too low and may not be enough to meet the demand of power grid users.

The deficiency, according to NGCP, is caused by the reduced capabilities of hydro electric plants due to low elevation at water reservoirs.

Agus and Pulangi plants capabilities dropped further by 70 percent, the country’s operator of transmission highway said.

Apart from the reduced capacities of Agus and Pulangi Plants, the lack of power supply is further aggravated by the non-availability of the 35MW Iligan Diesel Power Plant (35 MW) and the planned outage of the Power Barge 117 with 50MW.

Because of this development, NGCP said: “A total of around 400 MW of power is expected to be curtailed in the Mindanao grid.”

Load curtailment is implemented to ration the available power and to ensure the reliability and stability of the entire power network.

NGCP also advised its Mindanao customers to coordinate directly with distribution utilities or electric cooperatives in their area for the complete list of areas affected and the schedule of power interruptions.

In the Visayas grid, available capacity this afternoon is 1,188 MW while demand is 1,165 MW.

Compared to Mindanao, power reserve is now 23 MW, a slight improvement from the 5 MW this morning.

Expected to further improve grid conditions is the cutting in and synchronization to the grid of Power Barge 102 (5 MW) at around 5 p.m. Tuesday.

On the other hand, Luzon grid continues to be stable and under normal status.

Available capacity in Luzon grid this afternoon is 7,376 MW while demand is 6,624 MW. Power reserve is now 752 MW.

Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes over the weekend admitted that several areas in Mindanao are suffering from two to three hours brownouts while the "difficult area" have blackouts lasted by more than 5 hours.

Reyes also said they are looking at implementing the supply augmentation program in Mindanao to resolve the power crisis there.

The Energy chief is evaluating and assessing the situation in Mindanao before making its recommendations to allow President Arroyo emergency powers to address the power supply situation in the Mindanao region.

Nuclear power

Meanwhile, Reyes said the government should not shut down its doors on the use of nuclear power especially now that some parts of the country are suffering from power crisis.

“Definitely nuclear option is always an option that should be made available, we should not shut ourselves out of that option,” he told reporters.

Muclear power is a baseload source of power and compared to the wind it is “intermittent or is it dependent on weather like hydro plants.”

“So (you have) steady (supply of power) once you turn it on it will generate more or less secure level of power, quality power over a long period of time, the lifespan of nuclear power is about 50 years,” Reyes said.

He noted that if the government pushes through with the utilization of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) “we could have a steady power supply for the next 25 years since its counterpart in South Korea is still operating up to this time.”

But the energy chief admitted that what would really entail cost is the initial investment since its really huge.

Aside from the investment cost, Reyes said there are also other factors that need to be considered specifically the issue on waste disposal and environmental concerns.

He, however, is in favor of reviving the BNPP if it would be much cheaper than to build a new plant.

“We want to rehabilitate the BNPP,” he said, adding that building another plant would be more tasking since choosing the site alone would take seven to 10 years.

At the same time, Reyes said other neighboring countries are now looking at nuclear power which is also one sign that we should consider.

“The nuclear option for power generation should always be considered, a lot of countries in the region and all over the world are using nuclear energy,” he said, noting that France is dependent to an extent of 80 percent and exporting nuclear option.

Aside from France, Reyes said in Asia, Taiwan, Korea, and Japan are now utilizing nuclear power. “We should maintain a healthy open minded consideration of nuclear power.” (MSN/Sunnex)