KORONADAL CITY -- The power supply deficiency in Mindanao continues to plunge, with the deficit more than doubling to 390 megawatts (MW) from the level recorded about three weeks ago, which was at 156 MW.

In its advisory, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) blamed the continuing power production shortfall to the El Niño weather pattern.

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As of Monday, Mindanao has available capacity of 820 MW against a peak load of 1,210 MW.

"Mindanao grid continues to experience generation deficiency of up to 390 MW today (Monday). This is attributed mainly to limited available capacities from hydro power plants, most of which have water reservoirs that are drying up due to the El Nino," it said.

There has been an 80 percent reduction in the capabilities of the National Power Corporation's (Napocor) Agus hydroelectric power plants, the private operator of the country's transmission network said.

On the other hand, the Pulangi hydropower plant, which is also owned by Napocor, experienced 90 percent reduction in capabilities, the firm said.

Lake Lanao elevation as of 6 a.m. on Sunday was 699.08 meters, which is below the critical level of 699.15 meters, NGCP noted.

The utility said that also contributing to limitations in Mindanao's available capacities is the non-availability of the Iligan Diesel Power Plant (35 MW) and Power Barge 117 (100 MW).

The Iligan plant, owned by Napocor, has not been operating since last month due to a tax row with the local government unit.

Secretary Jesus G. Dureza, presidential adviser for Mindanao, said the Iligan City Government and the Napocor have struck an agreement that would allow the plant to resume operations.

Last week, Dureza met in Davao City key stakeholders of the Mindanao power industry and business leaders to tackle the power crisis in the southern Philippines.

"The President has given orders to ensure that the current energy problem is addressed jointly by the government and the private sector to avert possible worsening of the situation," Dureza said.

Meanwhile, a power executive in South Cotabato expressed opposition to the privatization next year of Napocor's Agus hydroplant.

Santiago C. Tudio, manager of the South Cotabato Electic Cooperative I, said the privatization of the Agus plant would result in higher electricity rates.

"The government should instead encourage more investments in power generation in Mindanao to avoid deeper power problems in the long-term. It can do so by providing incentives such as tax holidays to power investors," Tudio said.