N. Cotabato braces 7-10 hours of rotating blackouts daily

KIDAPAWAN CITY - Businessmen and power consumers in North Cotabato province are again bracing for a longer brownouts as one of the units of the privately-owned diesel-fired power plants in Compostela Valley underwent immediate repairs starting Tuesday, a spokesman for an electric cooperative said.

Vicente Baguio, spokesman for the Cotabato Electric Cooperative (Cotelco)-Main, said that starting Wednesday the rotating blackouts in their service areas last up to seven hours when one of the engines of the diesel-fired power plants of the Therma Marine Inc. (TMI) in Maco, Compostela Valley bogged down after a longer usage.

Wilfredo Rodolfo, TMI's corporate communications head, said they have to cut off part of the power distributed to electric cooperatives and other companies when one of the barges of their diesel-fired plants in Maco town shut down. The barge's capacity is 50-megawatts (MW), he said.

Rodolfo cited longer usage as primary reason for the shutdown.

"These diesel-fired power plants are designed only as peaking plants, meaning, they are only used when Mindanao grid needs additional power during peak hours. But since 2010, these plants are into 24-hour operation, which is already beyond its capacity," Rodolfo said.

The TMI, a subsidiary of the AboitizPower Corporation, produces 200 MW from its power barges in Nasipit, Agusan del Norte and in Maco, Compostela Valley.

The two diesel-fired power barges of TMI are running 24 hours every day to try to meet the power demand from Mindanao's electric cooperatives.

These barges supply power to 23 electric cooperatives and distribution utilities in Mindanao in addition to the supply provided for by state-owned National Power Corporation-Power Sector Assets Liabilities and Management (NPC-PSALM).

The Cotelco-Main, service provider for 12 towns and one city in North Cotabato province, used to buy additional 8MW power from the TMI.

But since Tuesday, the electric coop is only given 6MW, which is 25 percent less of the total supply of power the Cotelco gets from the TMI.

"That means longer brownouts for North Cotabato," Baguio said.

From four hours, the rotating blackouts last to seven hours a day, he said.

The power situation is worse in five towns in North Cotabato, which is part of the service areas of the sub-station of the Cotelco at the Pigcawayan-Pikit-Aleosan-Libungan-Midsayap Area (P-PALMA), where rotating blackouts could last at least 10 hours a day.
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