Power situation in Luzon, Mindanao worsens

Power situation in Luzon, Mindanao worsens
By Amy R. Remo
Philippine Daily Inquirer

TOLEDO CITY, CEBU, Philippines—Despite government efforts to solve the problem, the power situation in Luzon and Mindanao have worsened as energy supply deficits soared to their highest levels, with Metro Manila hit by rotating brownouts on Friday.

Luzon and Mindanao, which have suffered power outages in recent weeks because of breakdowns at ageing power plants and low capacity in hydroelectric dams caused by a dry spell, were again placed on alert Friday.

According to the National Grid Corp. (NGCP), the private operator of the country’s transmission network, the energy supply deficit in Luzon has reached 641 megawatts (MW) while that of Mindanao has reached 700 MW.

Friday marked the fourth day running that the capital has been hit, with officials also blaming scheduled plant repairs for the shortage.

The Manila Electric Co., the electric distribution utility, said Metro Manila and surrounding areas would have their power cut for 90 minutes at a time throughout the day.

Maintenance repair work

Jesusito Sulit, the NGCP spokesperson, said engineers believed the problem in the capital would soon be fixed.

“We should have a total of 1,700 MW back on line by the end of next week” provided all power plants are repaired on schedule, he said.

According to a high-ranking NGCP official, relief for the greater Luzon area will come only after the Malampaya gas field resumes production of natural gas on March 12, after the completion of maintenance repair work.

Until then, power supply in Luzon will remain “unstable” and “critical” over the next few days and possibly into the following week, according to the NGCP official.

However, in Mindanao, home to around 21 million people, the shortage showed no sign of letting up, with some areas facing blackouts lasting up to 12 hours a day—a problem that began a month ago.

The island relies heavily on hydroelectric dams but a prolonged dry spell has left many dams unable to provide electricity.

Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes said if President Macapagal-Arroyo goes ahead with plans to declare a power crisis in Mindanao, which would empower her to speedily bring new generators into the region, an additional 130 MW to 140 MW would be made available.

However, this will need the approval of Congress, Reyes told reporters on the sidelines of the switch-on ceremony for the 246-MW clean coal-fired power plant of the Cebu Energy Development Corp. (CEDC) here Friday.

Sulit warned that it would be at least 30 days before the situation improves in Mindanao.

“We can’t expect anything significant until then,” he said. With a report from Agence France-Presse

Karen Ang

A plebeian who is trying to make small changes in this world.