Sunday, September 19, 2021

Mindanao seeing signs of economic recovery

Photo from Minda

THE Mindanao Development Authority (Minda) is confident Mindanao will still be able to achieve its target economic growth for this year despite the disruption of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) crisis as power demand started to pick up in the past months.

Minda assistant secretary Romeo Montenegro said during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and general community quarantine (GCQ) period, the Mindanao grid recorded the lowest demand of 1,390 MW in early May from the peak demand of 1,978MW in January or a 600 MW difference, citing data from the Department of Energy (DOE).

He also noted electricity generation plummeted at 25,900 megawatt hour (MW) in April 2020 from 58,059 peak generation in February 2020.

But as of July 20, he said day-to-day power demand on July 20 picked up at 1,867 MW despite the pandemic.

It is 3.78 percent or 68 mw higher than the 1,799 mw peak power demand recorded in the same period of 2019.

"This is an indication that the Mindanao economy is back on its feet although not at an optimum capacity. Some industries have started operating. Malls are now open while adhering to the certain protocols laid down by the government in terms of the actual number of clients that can be served. Some other offices have started operating although on a reduced number of hours," Montenegro said.

He said with the current record, Mindanao will be able to achieve its target growth rate.

"With a growth of 68 MW in power demand in July last year and July this year, we are confident that Mindanao can still continue to move in terms of the demand situation represented by the increase in the economic activities and the completion of many real estate projects here in Mindanao," he said.

He said there has also been a boom in the real estate projects and expansions of manufacturing and agribusinesses among other developments which contributed to the growth in the region before the pandemic.

And as they are seen to resume operations, he said power demand will likely increase.

However, he said there is also a need to prepare for these expansions as the power supply in the region remains a challenge and may be worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic.

"One important reality we have to deal with in Mindanao that also impacts on our supply scenario as well as our cost of electricity and that is the inability of our hydropower plants delivered by the Agus-Pulangi complex in terms of its optimum capacity," he said.

"The combined available output of Agus-Pulangi Hydro Power Complex as of Monday, July 20 is only around 360MW out of 600MW dependable capacity due to ongoing maintenance of some units," he said.

He said the Covid-19 pandemic may have also affected the delivery of electricity by the electric cooperatives.

"We all know how the economic shutdown has resulted and our electric cooperatives live on a cash basis. If they are not able to improve or meet collection expectations then that may have an impact on their ability to deliver services," he said.

Montenegro said Minda is set to undertake an assessment of the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on electric cooperatives and their responses, together with other concerned government agencies such as National Electrification Administration.


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