COTABATO CITY: Power outages in Mindanao are likely to continue with the El Nino phenomenon at its peak, low water level in hydropower plants in Lanao and Bukidnon, bombing of transmission towers as well as non repair of a toppled tower in Ramain, Lanao del Sur, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) said.
However, Melfrance Capulong, NGCP communications head for southern Mindanao, said NGCP remains hopeful the issue will be solved very soon because government agencies are addressing it.
With NGCP Tower No. 25 still down in Ramain, Lanao del Sur after lot owner Sanbitori family continues to deny entry to NGCP field workers, the tenuous power situation in Mindanao has been aggravated, Capulong said.
She said the incoming 600-megawatt of generation capacity from new power plants “will not be sufficient to relieve Mindanao of its energy problems unless the bombing of transmission facilities are stopped.”
Capulong said the current situation of Tower No. 25 might lead to “zero reserves” because it isolated Agus 1 hydropower plant from Mindanao grid.
NGCP has been rationing power to distribution utilities across Mindanao as a result of low hydropower plants generating capacity and non-repair of Tower No. 25.
Capulong said the repair of Tower No. 25 is a must as the generating capacity of other energy sources have reduced.
Since the start of 2016, NGCP has been rationing power in Mindanao. As a result, the Cotabato Light schedules daily power brownout of one or two hours in its franchise area that also included Sultan Kudarat and Datu Odin Sinsuat towns in Maguindanao.
In the January 29 NGCP power outlook, Mindanao has 1,324 MW available capacity with 1,360 MW system peak or gross reserves of negative 36 MW.
The Department of Energy (DOE), meanwhile, said the “right of way” (ROW) claims issue that hampers the repair of toppled tower in Lanao Sur is being addressed but admitted there are issues that need to be cleared first.
Energy Secretary Zenaida Mosada, in a radio interview, said negotiations to settle ROW claims by Sanbitori family in Ramain, Lanao del Sur have failed.
“The claims cannot be validated,” Monsada said.
A top level meeting involving officials of DOE, NGCP, Philippine National Police, Armed Forces of the Philippines, National Power Corporation and government-run National Transmission Corporation (Transco) also failed to address the ROW issue.
Fallen wooden pole
Last January 22, a more than two-hour power outages hit Cotabato Light franchise area and the whole of Maguindanao Electric Cooperative area after a wooden pole was burned and toppled in Barangay Salimbao, Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao.
Capulong said the toppled pole was among the wooden structures that carry 69-kilovolt line from NGCP’s Sultan Kudarat Substation to Cotabato City and to Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao.
Power went off at 10:57 pm in Cotabato Light franchise area and in Maguindanao. More than two hours later, or at 1:39 am on Saturday, power was restored in Cotabato City but Maguindanao was energized only at 7:14 am or more than eight hours later.
“[Our] initial findings indicate sabotage,” Capulong said. NGCP completed repairs at 1:54 pm on Saturday (January 23) with the installation of a modified lightweight tower.
She said NGPC is doing its best to avoid, or at least lessen the number of hours, of brownout.
However, power interruptions caused by force majeure events like sabotage and tower bombings, are beyond our control,” she said.