Editorial: Higher power rates?

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Friday, May 2, 2014

TUESDAY night, perhaps, was the worst summer evening for residents in some parts of Davao City.

A brownout, longer than the usual, once again hit the city, leaving several residents groping in the dark and fanning for hours to fend off the heat because aircons and electric fans were merely useless piece of technology.

The recurrence of brownout became the new normal for most of us in Mindanao who have to contend with insufficient power supply, especially during hot season, as the power sector claims that Agus-Pulangi hydropower plants have reduced capacity: first, because of old age, and second, due to reduced water level.


The power mix of Mindanao is comprised a little over half by hydro while the other sources are from diesel, coal, geothermal, and biomass. That is to say, any reduction to the water level could heavily affect the power supply, and the result: rotational brownouts.

Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) director for Investment Promotions and Public Affairs Romeo Montenegro said, during the media summit recently, that they are devising a long-term solutions for Mindanao.

Among them are more coal-fired powerplants and the inter-island connectivity that is to connect Mindanao to Luzon and Visayas grids so whatever deficit there is to Mindanao, they can easily tap the excess in supply of the other two islands. By the way, a feasibility study on this has been submitted by National Grid Power Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) and is now under scrutiny by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

Montenegro said by the time big ticket projects -- all 17 of them now -- are completed and produce power, it will somehow ease the power woes of Mindanao.

But, will the ease in power deficiency bring electricity cost higher? Are Mindanawons ready for that? Probably not.

These questions are reminiscent to what President Benigno Aquino III stated in the 2012 Mindanao Power Summit that a steady stream of power needs us to pay higher power rates.

By the way, charge your phones and laptops, we just might not know when rotational brownouts will hit again.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on May 03, 2014.


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