WITH zero megawatt contingency reserves on Wednesday, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) has placed Mindanao on “red alert”, fearing possible system collapse with the imbalance of power supply between the north and south of the island.

In its advisory, the “red alert” was in effect from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. on Wednesday due to the isolation of the National Power Corporation (Napocor) owned generating facilities, Agus 1 and 2 hydropower plants which connect to the grid through Agus 2 – Kibawe 138kV line.

The NGCP has blamed uncooperative landowners as behind the supply deficiency.

NGCP’s tower alongside Agus 2 - Kibawe 138kV line located in Ramain town in Lanao del Sur has yet to be restored after it was bombed by lawless group on December 24, 2015.

With the toppling of the tower, the line has been unserviceable since Christmas and the restoration made difficult when the landowners of the property where the tower is located denied entrance to the repair servicemen.

NGCP has only one remaining generation facility, the Maramag-Bunawan 138-KV line, and if it is compromised, power will stop flowing in the remaining hydropower facilities to south of Mindanao – the bulk of power demand.

If the situation persists, NGCP fears that Mindanao will face a possible grid collapse.

NGCP in its advisory said General Santos City and Davao City which are both located in the South are facing the possible complete power cut off from the bulk supply coming from the hydro facilities.

NGCP has been advising electric cooperatives and distribution utilities to source out power supply from other sources to provide electricity within their service areas.

During the weekend, NGCP placed Mindanao to yellow alert after the power supply has dropped to the level below the required reserves slumping to 45 megawatts.

Earlier, Cagayan de Oro Electric Power and Light Company (Cepalco) senior vice president Ralph Paguio said that Cepalco is doing its best to get energy from other independent power producers to continue servicing its areas.

Paguio said it is but proper to prepare should major supply deficiency arises.

“We are always hoping to get supply from other outside sources to cover short fall,” Paguio said.

During the yellow alert declaration over the weekend, Paguio, told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro that they would evaluate the supply condition and determine what options are open for the city’s power distribution utility.

So far, since the holidays until the yellow alert declaration, Cepalco has not issued any rotating brownout schedule.

Misamis Oriental I Electric Service Cooperative (Moresco 1) public relations officer Maribec Cagalawan said that distribution utilities like Moresco is deeply affected by the power problem in Mindanao.

Moresco 1 is manually load dropping when situation such as “red alert” declared by NGCP. It has requested to manage its own load dropping where the interruptible load program (ILP) gets into the picture.

The ILP is a program established by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to help mitigate the energy supply deficiency in the Philippines until new capacities become available on the grid.

Cagalawan told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro in a text message on Monday, that Moresco 1 is trying to get into additional contract for 2016 to prevent implementing rotational brownout in its service areas.

On Friday, January 8, AboitizPower Corporation will inaugurate its 300-MW baseload power plant in Davao City. This power plant is one of the critical projects needed to finally solve the long-term perennial Mindanao power shortage. This power plant supplies power to more than 20 electric cooperatives and distribution utilities all over Mindanao.

In September 2015, AboitizPower has declared full commercial operations for the first of the two 150-MW units of its Therma South Energy Project in Davao City while the second 150-MW will go with its full commercial operations in February this year.

However, this 300-MW power unit seems to have become a stopgap for the unserviceable Napocor owned unserviceable hydropower units in Lanao del Sur instead of adding to the power supply in the island.