TO AVERT MINDANAO GRID COLLAPSE

Aquino opens Davao coal-power plant

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President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Friday inaugurated the newly completed 300-megawatt coal-fired power plant in Binugao, Toril, Davao City to augment power supply in
Mindanao, where the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) transmission towers had been hit by a series of rebel bombing attacks.

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The power plant, owned by Aboitiz- Power and operated by its subsidiary, Therma South, Inc. (TSI), will supply more than 20 electric cooperatives and distribution utilities in Mindanao.

In his speech, Aquino vowed “to leave Mindanao in a better situation” when he steps down in June.

He said the power plant is part of his Administration’s commitment to transform Mindanao from the “land of promise” to the “land of promises fulfilled.”

“I am certain that, if we continue working together — both public and private sector alike— we can truly give rise to a Mindanao that reaches its full potential, and prove, once more, that nothing is impossible to a united Filipino people,” he said.

Aquino also thanked Aboitiz Power Corp., and Therma South Inc. “for being an early believer in the potential of Mindanao.”

”When this plant becomes fully operational, we can count on it to consistently produce 300 megawatts of baseload power, which means that this capacity can be tapped into anytime, rain or shine, with very minor fluctuations,” he said.

Aquino also said he is a believer in the development of renewable energy but the country cannot completely remove its dependence on coal.

A shortage of power supply, exacerbated by other problems such as the bombing of transmission utilities, has been causing prolonged power outages in most parts of Mindanao.

AboitizPower’s sister company, the Davao Light and Power Company, has an outstanding 100MW power supply contract with the new power plant.

The power plant will supply power to major cities of Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Gen. Santos, Butuan, Kidapawan, Cotabato and Tagum. It will also serve the provinces of Davao, Caraga, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, parts of Bukidnon, parts of Misamis and parts of Zamboanga peninsula.

The first of the two 150-megawatt plants started operations in September 2015. The second 150-megawatt power plant is being inaugurated to complete the 300-megawatt facility.

Move to avert collapse

Meanwhile, in a move to avert a possible collapse of the Mindanao grid, Aquino said he will meet with stakeholders in Malacañang next week to address the energy problem in Mindanao.

The meeting will address the landowners’ right-of-way claims, which Aquino said was a problem he inherited from past administrations.

Energy Secretary Zenaida Monsada, at the same time, said the meeting will have representatives from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

“The bombing of the transmission towers is a security issue, so that [meeting]should involve the AFP, DND, PNP,” she told reporters in an interview.

She said most of the transmission towers were built during the time of martial law in the 1970s and some of the records of payment are no longer available.

“The belief is that most of the landowners were paid for the right-of-way but those who are making claims now are a new generation of owners, so we need the records,” she said.

The DOE earlier warned that electricity rates in Mindanao might go up because of the bombings of power facilities, causing damage that may eventually form part of the transmission’s recovery cost subject to approval by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

The DOE said that all 14 of the 15 transmission towers that have been toppled or damaged have already been restored.

Only the Agus2-Kibawe Line in Ramain, Lanao del Sur remains to be repaired.

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