DAVAO CITY—Top executives of the country’s second biggest power distribution firm warned of much longer brown-outs in Mindanao as the declining water level of Agus and Pulangi rivers further push down Mindanao’s power generation capacity by about half of the island’s existing power needs.
Art Milan, chief operating officer of the Aboitiz-owned Davao Light and Power Company (DLPC), cited reports that it will only need another 9 cm for the water level in Agus river to go down before the Agus hydroelectric complex in Lanao del Norte will shutdown.
If that happens, Milan said the power curtailment level in Mindanao will go up to 900 megawatts, which means a much longer brown-out than the one-hour brown-outs being experienced in Davao city, and the four to five-hour brown-outs in neighboring provinces of Digos and Tagum.
“That’s why, it’s very difficult for us to say, whether our curtailment level will increase or decrease in the coming weeks, because there are also thermal plants that will shut down,” Milan said. “The situation is very fluid.”
He said the National Power Corporation also runs its plants and that any “conking out of those plants will lead to higher curtailment levels.” The DLPC executives urged people to pray not only for rains to come but for the rest of the power plants to keep on running and “not conk out.”
The Agus river in Lanao del Norte and the Pulangi in Bukidnon powers the country’s two largest hydroelectric plants that generate much of Mindanao’s power requirements.
Manuel Orig, DLPC executive vice president, said the Mindanao electric power alliance has been considering two options to solve the current crisis: for Congress to grant emergency power to the President, or to aggregate existing power needs from big industrial users and temporarily source out power from an international supplier.
But Orig said the group has yet to come up with its official position.
He said the proposal to ask Congress to grant emergency power to the President might “take long,” and might not be able to answer the urgency of the crisis. He also said that sourcing out the pressing power needs from an international supplier might also entail a large amount of capital and a “firm contract that the power will be bought” to encourage a foreign supplier to come in.
Orig also pointed out the absence of new power facilities to boost existing capacities in Mindanao has worsened the problem.
He said that even without the El Nino phenomenon, Mindanao is still faced with a crisis because of the absence of new capacities amidst the growing demand for power. “The demand for electricity is going up,” he said. “Even without the crisis of El Nino, we are still facing the crisis, because there are no new capacities to cope up with the increase of the demand.” He said the projected 484 megawatt demand in the coming year can deprive five major cities in Mindanao of power. (Germelina Lacorte/ davaotoday.com)