DOE: Power shortage in Mindanao to last for one more month
The Department of Energy said the power shortage in Mindanao will last for at least one more month.
"We will continue to experience the present level of shortages up to May 9," Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said in a report aired over GMA News' Saksi late Tuesday night.
The Energy Department had said that projected peak demand in Mindanao is 1,300 MW although the available capacity is only at 1,100 MW, excluding the required reserve margin to maintain the "integrity" of the Mindanao Grid which is pegged at 250 MW.
The same television report said the power shortage was reportedly caused by the lack of eletricity being produced by the hydroelectrical power plants in Mindanao due to heat brought by the dry season.
Almendras also explained that the reason they expect the power shortage to continue until May 9 is because of the need to shut down the Pulangi IV Hydroelectric Power Plant in Bukidnon for a maintenance check from April 9.
According to the DOE's Mindanao Field Office curtailment schedule obtained by GMA News Online on Wednesday, some parts of Region IX, X, XI, XII, and XIII have recently been experiencing rotational brownouts. Among these areas are:
- Pagadian City, Zamboanga del Sur (4 hrs/day)
- Zamboanga City (4 hrs/day)
- Maramag, Bukidnon (1 hr/day)
- Iligan City, Lanao del Norte (2.5 hrs/day)
- Marawi City, Lanao del Sur (3.5 hrs/day)
- Tubod, Lanao del Norte (3 hrs/day)
- Ozamis City, Misamis Occidental (3 hrs/day)
- Calamba, Misamis Occidental (5 hrs/day)
- Digos City, Davao del Sur (3 hrs/day)
- Tagum City, Davao Norte (1.5 hrs/day)
- Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat (1 hr/day)
- Kidapawan City (4.32 hrs/day)
- Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao (4 hrs/day)
- General Santos City, South Cotabato (4 hrs./day)
- Koronadal City, South Cotabato (1 hr/day)
- Surigao City, Surigao del Norte (4 hrs/day)
- Siargao, Surigaoi del Norte (3 hrs/day)
- Tandag, Surigao del Sur (1 hr/day)
- San Francisco, Agusan del Sur (2 hrs/day)
The Zamboanga International Aiport specifically had to cut its night operations due to the damage caused by the brownouts to their equipment.
Almendras earlier said the government was in the process of sending energy barges to Mindanao to help ease the shortage, although such would cost consumers more.
"The only way to solve the shortage is to bring in power that is more expensive. The power barges owned by the private sector. They're saying... we need an assurance na kasi gagastos sila pagdating doon [kapag] walang bibili, patay sila," he said in the TV report.
"Considering the future lower rainfall forecast in Mindanao, we cannot rely solely on hydropower plants. Non-hydro baseload is immediately needed and this will only happen if everyone cooperates,” he added in a statement issued early this month .
Some members of the House of Representatives are reportedly proposing that President Benigno Aquino III be given emergency powers to address the situation.
But a number of senators are not in favor of the idea.
"PNoy is not even asking for a special power. I bet those who are proposing such special powers don't even have an idea of what powers they are talking about," said Sen. Panfilo Lacson in a text message to reporters on Wednesday.
"Di dapat padalus-dalos sa pagbibigay ng emergency powers. Dapat busisiin muna nang husto ang nasabing usapin. Yung huling pagkakataon na binigyan ng emergency powers ang Malakanyang sa usapin ng power crisis ay nagbaon sa buong bansa sa mataas na singil sa kuryente na hindi naman natin kailangan," added Sen. Francis Pangilinan in a separate text message.
In the past, Congress had granted emergency powers to former President Fidel Ramos in 1992 when the country was also faced with a severe power crisis. Around 40 independent power producers reportedly signed contracts with the government, which caused an energy oversupply and high energy costs for the consumers.
Sen. Francis Escudero, for his part, said Aquino needs more than emergency powers to address the worsening power crisis in Mindanao.
"He should be granted standby power in case of extraordinary situations that he can exercise at his own sound discretion without having to run to Congress every now and then and wait for its imprimatur,” Escudero said in a statement issued Wednesday.
He said the standby power will grant the President power to impose a price cap to avoid market failure.
"Fears of monopoly and skyrocketing power prices grip our Mindanao residents aside from the already tenuous power supply issue, but the President can prevent this from happening with the said standby powers and calm the edgy residents," he said.
But Escudero quickly noted that the standby power would only be granted to him temporarily just so he can provide "immediate remedies" in case of national power emergencies.
“This power crisis in Mindanao is one of those extraordinary circumstances that calls for extraordinary power. Its impact and its consequences are already felt by every single resident. If long-term solution is not yet readily available in the nearest time frame, then let an immediate remedy be readily provided,” he said.
Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte, however, said they will still have to study these proposals.
"As of the present time, the power situation is being addressed by the Department of Energy with the stakeholders in Mindanao," Valte said in a text message Tuesday.
The DOE said it has already issued a circular which will help rationalize the power supply system in Mindanao.
Aquino also said that the administration is shelling out P2.6 billion for the rehabilitation of units 1 and 2 of hydroelectric power plant Agus 6 in Mindanao. He said the hydropower plant, built in 1953, has a life span of only 30 years.
But he said it will likewise take 30 years to rehabilitate the plant.
On the other hand, the President also said that they are looking into the possibility of utilizing renewable energy.
"We will be ready when that demand comes in...hopefully this will also...bring down the price of electricity," Aquino said in an earlier interview.
Since 2010, the DOE has been saying that Mindanao may face a power crisis in succeeding years.
At least two measures have been filed with the Senate seeking an inquiry into the Mindanao power crisis. — RSJ, GMA News