Power outages unchanged despite additional 105MW load

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Friday, May 9, 2014

NOTHING has been changed with the worsening power outages in Cagayan de Oro City despite the reconnection of the 105-megawatt Unit 2 electric generating set of Steag Power Inc. (SPI) into the grid Wednesday night.

SPI Power Plant Manager Dr. Carsten Evers announced that SPI’s Unit 2 went on line to the Mindanao grid around 8:55 p.m. of May 7, ahead of its modified May 8 target.

“We are happy to announce that SPI has added up 105 megawatts (MW) to the grid and we hope this will provide some relief in the precarious power supply condition of Mindanao,” Dr. Evers said.


With the reconnection, only 4 to 6MW have been rationed to Cagayan de Oro Power and Electric Light Co. (Cepalco) instead of the 10MW it expected.

At past 6 p.m. of May 8, Cepalco only registered 38 MW from its 34MW on Wednesday evening, Marilyn Chavez, senior and customer community relations manager of Cepalco, told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro by phone Thursday evening.

Cepalco needs 140MW electricity every day.

Even at 4MW, Chavez said, “it is still a big help to Cepalco considering the large area it is servicing.”

“Therefore, we still have to schedule seven [and a half] hours of interruption,” she said.

The consumers only felt the halving of the brownout schedule into 3 hours and 3.5 hours giving consumers two periods of brownouts every day beginning today, May 9 until May 14, 2014.

After the business sector clamored of the longer brownout, Cepalco split the schedule into two periods.

“Businesses would die if the straight seven hours of brownouts continue for days especially the smaller ones. If the electricity is off in the morning, business can still operate in the afternoon,” she said.

The National Power Corporation (NPC) decides on the rationing of power to distribution companies like Cepalco.

“In an island as big as Mindanao, with only 105MW additional power generated, we cannot expect a big portion of it to be rationed to one particular utility. They equitably distribute it to all of Mindanao… So, maybe the 4 to 6MW is the fair share for Cepalco,” Chavez said.

Rafael Paguio, vice-president of Cepalco, said the company is drawing 42MW from its Minergy power plant; 2MW from the Bubunawan River run off project; and 1MW from its solar plant in Barangay Indahag.

“We are still on the deficit. That is the reason why we cannot ease the brownouts,” Paguio said.

Chavez said National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) permitted Cepalco to maintain its current allocation.

The NGCP maintained that the power shortage is due to generation deficiency.

Another power plant shutdown

Another diesel-fired power plant was shut down for maintenance in Zamboanga City, the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) said.

Brian Diosma, of the MinDA Power Monitoring Committee, said the 50MW power plant owned by Western Mindanao Power Corporation in Barangay Sangali, Zamboanga City went offline early this week.

“The management notified us last May 6 that it has scheduled its diesel-fired power plant for maintenance,” Diosma said.

He said the company under the Alcantara and Sons (Alsons) power group promised that the power plant would be operational again “in a couple of days.”

The power situation in the cities of Zamboanga, Davao and General Santos are also grim.

In Surigao and Ozamiz cities power interruptions as of May 7 were up to six hours; in Malaybalay between 2.5 and five hours.

Omar Sahi, Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative (Zamcelco) president, said Zamcelco is only receiving 47 MW while their daily peak demand is 85 MW.

He said this forced Zamcelco to implement a 10-hour brownout in Zamboanga City.

Journalist Frencie Carreon said the brownouts in Zamboanga City also extend by as much as 14 hours.

“We can barely work. There are no news stories coming out about our predicament,” Carreon said.

In Davao City, rotating brownouts have been increased from six to 7.5 hours.

But MinDA’s Diosma said that DLPC reported that its precarious power situation has been eased by Steag’s 105MW.

“Davao Light might ease its brownouts to only four hours,” he said.

Power coops

Mindanao’s electric cooperatives also fared well in the present power crisis since many of them resorted to buying modular generating sets to feed them with electricity.

Marebec Cagalawan, communications officer of the Misamis Oriental Rural Electric Service Cooperative 1 (Moresco-1), said their franchise area, which covers the western towns in Misamis Oriental and several mountain villages in Cagayan de Oro, is sparsely populated.

She said factories in the area have contributed their spare electricity for use by the other consumers.

“We are only experiencing two-hour brownouts,” Cagalawan said.

Earlier this week, President Benigno Simeon Aquino III blamed the power cooperatives for worsening the power shortage because they failed and were late in purchasing the modular generators.

Power situation outlook

The NGCP website’s power situation outlook as of 6 a.m. of May 7 showed Mindanao’s system capacity at only 822 for a peak demand of 1,211 MW or a deficit of 389 MW.

Dr. Evers also said that SPI is currently fast tracking the repair of Unit 1 and put it on line on or before 1 June 2014.

“We recognize the necessity and urgency of bringing the units back on line and rest assured that we are doing our best to restore our full capacity the soonest possible time,” Dr. Evers said.

Dr. Evers said that power plant preventive maintenance activities are also being implemented while repair and restoration works are ongoing to optimize the time and minimize power generation interruptions due to planned plant outages in the remaining months of the year.

SPI, owned by the German company Steag GmbH, with Aboitiz Power Corporation and La Filipina Uygongco Corporation as partners and shareholders, assures the public that is coordinating with the Department of Energy (DOE), NPC, the Grid Management Committee (GMC), and the NGCP in addressing the electric power supply issues in Mindanao.

Since start of its commercial operations in November 2006, SPI has delivered more than 10 billion kWh of electric power to the grid for about a fifth of the island’s total power supply. (With Froilan Gallardo-Mindanews)

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on May 09, 2014.

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