MINDANAO'S power situation remains to be critical with the diminishing energy supply as hydro power plants are dried up by the El Niño phenomenon.

Based on the latest update of power distributor Davao Light and Power Company (DLPC), Mindanao is experiencing a power shortage of 650 megawatts already.

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During Wednesday's Club 888 forum at the Marco Polo Hotel Davao, Roger Velasco, DLPC vice president for engineering, said that the power supply in Mindanao is at extremely critical levels that if any one of the power plants operating conks out, massive black outs will ensue.

At present, the power supply of DLPC is sourced from the following: 100 megawatts from National Power Corporation, 32 megawatts from the Bajada Power Plant, 13 megawatts from the Hedcor Sibulan Hydro Power Plant, and 4 megawatts from the Hedcor Talomo Hydro Power Plant.

Despite the multiple sources of power, DLPC does not see a bright future in the next couple of months if the prevailing weather conditions continue.

DLPC Chief Operating Officer Art Milan refuses to categorize how soon the situation will normalize.

"Our power supply gap will shoot to 900 megawatts if the Agus hydro power plants will shut down and the Pulangi hydro power plants remain to operate at 20 percent of its capacity," Milan said.

Root cause

DLPC executive vice president Manuel "Bobby" Orig said there are two primary factors that cause the power crisis.

"First there is the El Niño which dries up our water reserves used to run the hydro power plants in northern and central Mindanao," Orig said.

"Second, the power demand of Mindanao has exponentially grown at an annual rate of 5.67 percent, without any new power plants being constructed." he added.

Given the situation, with or without the El Niño phenomenon, Orig foresees that Mindanao will face a supply gap of 484 megawatts by 2014.

"484 megawatts is equal to the power being used by Davao, Zamboanga, Cagayan de Oro, Butuan, and General Santos," Orig said.

On the grid

As of Tuesday evening, the National Power Corporation's (Napocor) Agus Hydro-electric Power Plants has a total available capacity of 110 megawatts out of the total rated capacity of 727 megawatts.

The Pulangi Hydro Power Plant, also owned by Napocor, is running at only 30 megawatts out of the total rated capacity of 255 megawatts.

Water levels at Lake Lanao have not improved since Monday and remain to be 7 centimeters above the shut down level of the six Agus hydro power plants.

Despite a controversy, the Iligan Diesel Power Plant, which has been unavailable since February 1, has resumed operation and providing 35 MW to the grid. (Carlo P. Mallo)