In contrast to the previous rotational brown-out, power outages in Mindanao has worsen with a daily duration of eight to nine hours brown-out, particularly in Kidapawan City and North Cotabato province alone, due to reported on-going maintenance on two power generators in the provinces of Lanao del Norte and Misamis Oriental.
Cotabato Electric Cooperative (Cotelco) officials reported lately that they are now implementing rotating brownouts in North Cotabato due various repairs and maintenance shutdown of power plants, including hydropower facilities in Lanao del Norte and Misamis Oriental.
The Unit 2 of STEAG State Power Inc. (SPI), a coal-fired power plant in Misamis Oriental, went on an unplanned shutdown after it developed technical problems on July 29. Shutting down the unit was necessary to prevent further damage to the generator, Cotelco said, citing from STEAG.
The Agus 4 hydroelectric power plant in Lanao also embarked on rehabilitative shutdown, compounding rotating brownouts in parts of Mindanao expected to last until mid-October.
North Cotabato is requiring a 28 megawatts power but due to limited supply from the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), it gets only 18 MW, including that supplied by Therma Marine Inc.
“As an electric distribution utility, we are forced to effect load curtailment in our service area from time to time depending on the advice of NGCP until such time that these power plants will be back on line,” Godofredo Homez, Cotelco general manager said in a published report.
South Cotabato and Davao areas also started implementing rotational power interruption Friday.
Crisis to happen
On March 30 last year Former National Economic and Development Authority chief Dr. Gerardo Sicat published a paper on the Mindanao power problem, describing it as a crisis waiting to happen.
“Inaction on the required policy front meant that the day of reckoning would simply arrive and blow up the picture. That has now become a reality,” he said.
He said lack of strong national leadership on the issue let conflicting interests to create a stalemate in decision-making. He recalled the power crisis of Luzon during the early 1990s.
Energy consumer groups in Mindanao have been campaigning for a repeal or amendment of Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) to save the power industry from the clutches of profit-oriented private firms.
North Cotabato demands implementation of law
Consumers in North Cotabato including incumbent and former elected officials also revived the demand for the implementation of a law prescribing the supply of 25 percent of the 104-megawatt capacity of the Mt. Apo Geothermal Plants named Mindanao I and Mindanao II.
North Cotabato, which hosts the Mt. Apo geothermal plants, has 28-MW power that can be amply met if R. A. 7638 or the Department of Energy (DOE) Act of 1992 takes its course religiously, they said.
Section 5 (i) of the law mandates the DOE to “devise ways and means of giving direct benefit to the province, city, or municipality, especially the community and people
affected, and equitable preferential benefit to the region that hosts the energy resource and/or the energy-generating facility.”
Ejercito vows to address power woes in Mindanao
At a press conference last Sept. 1 in the culmination of the Kalivungan Festival here, journalists informed Sen. Joseph Victor ”JV” Ejercito the power situation here which he promised to address the Senate to review the Epira of 2001 which, he said, has not redounded to the benefits of power consumers as envisioned.
“I have readied a privilege of speech for this issue, but there are now controversies in the Senate and Congress, that holds its,” the senator said to reporters.
He said he would push the adoption of power shortage-mitigating measures to include the development of renewable energy and even nuclear power sources. He underscored the significance of pursuing the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) for a start.
At the same press conference, Estrada and Gov. Emmylou Taliño-Mendoza of North Cotabato province said the Epira has converted electricity from utility to commodity in a fashion vulnerable to manipulations by unscrupulous private power firms.
In his Mindanao sorties during the mid-term election campaign, Estrada had hit the Aquino government for its alleged failure to spend in 2011 a P2-billion energy development fund to rehabilitate dilapidated hydropower plants in Mindanao, particularly on the Agus complex in Lanao. MOH I. SAADUDDIN