No brownouts in Luzon, Visayas but Mindanao supply remains critical

by Lenie Lectura – February 16, 2016

from Business Mirror

The Department of Energy (DOE) said on Tuesday Luzon and the Visayas will be spared from power-supply problems between now and after the elections, but not Mindanao where power reserves remain critical.

“Luzon and the Visayas will face no problems. They are interconnected, so both are safe. We can also activate the ILP [Interruptible Load Program] if there’s a need to do so,” Energy Secretary Zenaida Monsada said in a news conference.

“Mindanao is critical. The supply situation there is more or less equal to the demand. We need to have some reserve. That is a requirement in the grid code. We can’t expect all plants running at full capacity
24 /7. Right now, yellow alert is still issued in Mindanao because of the rotating brownouts,” she added.

An ideal power reserve in Mindanao is 255 megawatts (MW). As of 1 p.m. on Tuesday, Mindanao’s power reserve stood at -98.

Mindanao, which is dependent on hydro plants as the main source of power, could not use Agus Hydroelectric Plant Units 1 and 2, which supply about 80 MW of cheaper power, because the transmission tower that transmits power to the distribution utilities and electric cooperatives (ECs) was damaged in December 2015.

The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), which holds the 25-year concession contract to operate the country’s power transmission network, said restoration of transmission tower No. 25 remains isolated since the rehabilitation crew is being denied access by the landowners.

“Efforts are now concentrated on having these towers repaired,” said Monsada, who wrote to the Commission on Elections [Comelec] to assist concerned government agencies in helping the NGCP to access and repair the transmission tower.

She said a resolution would be issued by the poll body soon. “Comelec will direct the military to provide the necessary support. It can’t direct NGCP because it is a private firm,” said Monsada, adding that only the Comelec “has that power to do so.”

On the DOE’s part, Monsada said her office will prioritize the voting centers in Mindanao to have a stable supply of power before and after the elections. “Power supply should be secured five days before and five days after the elections. The voting centers are priority areas. There will be generators set up by the ECs,” she added.

The ECs in Mindanao may tap the P4.5-billion Malampaya Fund to purchase modular generator sets that would be used during the election period. “There is an ongoing inventory to determine how many gen sets should be put up. The ECs could borrow from the Malampaya Fund to pay for the gen sets,” she said.