WITH the prolonged dry spell which is expected to continue until next year, the power sector is proposing anew to the Department of Energy (DOE) a reverse Economic Dispatch Protocol to be implemented in Mindanao as an option if the power situation gets worse.

The proposal is a reverse utilization of the present power source in Mindanao, which is hydropower, to fossil-based as baseload power.

Power sources referred as baseload are used almost the whole day while peak load are only used during peak hours.

"It is now being finalized. This scheme will be using more of the diesel and coal as baseload and hydro, which is fluctuating in terms of its output as peak load," Romeo Montenegro, Mindanao Development Authority (Minda) director of investment promotions and public affairs, said.

He added the proposal is still subject for reconsideration particularly on its impact on electric price rates.

Montenegro said they are still working on the price simulation or the computation of electric prices, which is eyed to be finished before yearend. This will determine how much increase will there be in the consumer's electricity rates if the proposal will be implemented.

“Before implementing this scheme, we have to factor a lot of items and certain considerations, essentially we have to lay the ground first in all areas covered for us to move towards such particular dispatch protocol," Montenegro said.

He said some factors to be considered are the extent of how the El Nino will affect the power sector, the status of expected entry or coming online of the power plants, among others.

Mindanao has an existing dispatch protocol of hydro as part of the baseload including some of coal because hydro is cheaper if you used for longer period of time resulting to cheaper electricity cost but if more use of other technologies such as diesel then the more expensive electric rates will be.

“But we’d be able to address to a large extent the power supply situation in terms of whether or not there is short fall,” Montenegro added.

Montenegro, however said that they projected not that high increase in electric rate if the proposal will be imposed especially for Davao City and other areas because they are already using coal as part of the baseload power energy mix.

“There is a chance that it will be implemented but we will only opt to it as a possible recourse if the situation gets worse but definitely if this one is implemented it will only be temporary in time for the El Nino phenomenon,” Montenegro said.

He described that “worse situation” is severe extended days of no rain in the island and severe depletion of the water levels of Lake Lanao and Pulangi.

At present, Mindanao has a power generation energy mix of renewable energy (RE) at 55 percent, fossil at 45 percent. But the power sector projected that in 2017, the situation drastically be reversed to 70 percent fossil largely composed of coal and only 30 percent RE.

Coal power is sold at P5–P6 per kilowatt hour depending on the generating companies while blended power of Hydro and Fossil is sold as low as P3, while pure Hydro is sold at only P1.