Power shortage in Mindanao ‘never been widespread’

MANILA (2nd Update) -- Brownouts in Mindanao have never been widespread, the Department of Energy (DOE) said, as it credited the issuance of a circular that aims to rationalize the power supply in the region.

Earlier, the DOE listed Cotabato, Panabo, Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, and Davao as areas unaffected by power outages.

But with the issuance of the Circular 2012–03-0004, areas not experiencing interruptions now include Malaybalay, Dipolog, Dapitan, Valencia, Camiguin, Panabo, Digos, Tagum, Mati, Cotabato, Surigao, Butuan, and Cabadbaran, said Energy Secretary Rene Almendras.

“This resulted in to less power outage for provinces in Mindanao and current power supply deficit of 100-160 MW (megawatts) from 360 MW during the previous months. However, the DOE continues to monitor its implementation to ensure strict compliance to the circular among stakeholders,” the department said.

Released on March 19, the circular was a stop-gap measure meant to rationalize the Mindanao Grid power supply system, which then directed electric cooperatives in the region to nominate their needed power to supply their demands.

The DOE had said the shortage of supply and the electric cooperatives' decision not to contract and purchase the necessary capacities within their respective areas were the primary causes of the power interruptions.

Two power barges were already dispatched in Mindanao, which will only be used to supply electricity during peak hours to make the power cost in the island less expensive.

"Now, the power barges are expensive if it’s used the whole time, and it’s not going to be used the whole 12 hours; it’s going to be used at peak hours and so that’s the reason why it’s costing will not be as high as feared. But certainly if you want to have power, you have to pay for power," presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said last week.

At the same time, the DOE mulls the operation of the Iligan Diesel Power Plant (IDPP), which will be able to produce an initial power of 15-20 MW and may increase upon rehabilitation.

Improvements to the Agus and Pulangi hydropower plants, which supply half of the island’s energy needs, will begin this April.

The Pulangi plant will be rehabilitated this month and DOE is already studying ways on how to mitigate its effect on the power supply. Agus Plant, meanwhile, will be rehabilitated in June. (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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