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Palace denies inaction over Mindanao power shortage

Malacañang on Thursday defended itself against criticism that it has done nothing to address the power problem in Mindanao.
"It is not as if people are just standing idly by. Ginagawan nila ng solusyon 'yon dahil hindi biru-biro iyong walang kuryente," Presidential Communications Operations Office head Herminio Coloma Jr. said in a press conference.
He issued the statement as some areas in Mindanao continue to experience rotating blackouts.

The Department of Energy meanwhile said it is still trying to determine the root cause of the widespread blackout that struck Mindanao on Feb.7.
Citing data from the DOE, Coloma said the current power supply in Mindanao is 1,064 megawatts. But the peak demand is estimated to be at 1,222 megawatts, leaving a shortfall of 158 megawatts.
"This explains why there are rotating brownouts [that last] an average of two to three hours, except in Maguindanao province that is currently experiencing up to more than 10 hours of power interruption daily," he said.
The Palace official said the DOE is on top of the situation but said the power shortage is "a systemic problem that requires a systemic solution to be provided by all of the stakeholders."
"I think what is apparent here is that kailangan talaga iyong tulung-tulong. Mas maraming maa-accomplish kung magtutulungan sila, di ba? Both the users and the distributers, the generators," he said.
To address this shortfall, he said the DOE and power industry are implementing the following measures:
  • Use of embedded generators by distribution utilities to augment power supply;
  • Adoption of the interruptible load program, which involves the voluntary use of generator sets by consumers for which they will receive compensation based on ERC approved rates;
  • Continuing repair and rehabilitation of the 210-megawatt STEAG coal-fired power plant in the Phividec estate in Misamis Oriental which is estimated to take two to three months; and
  • Continuing repair and rehabilitation of existing hydroelectric power plants.
Coloma also said the government is closely monitoring ongoing projects that will increase power supply in Mindanao by up to 900 megawatts. 
These include the 200-megawatt coal-fired plant the Alsons’ group is building in Sarangani province and the 300-megawatt Aboitiz-owned coal-fired plant in Davao, which he said will be both online by 2015.
Aside from this, he said another 400 megawatts will become available in 2016, when a Filinvest plant in Misamis comes on line.
"Hindi naman nakukuha sa init ng ulo ang solusyon. Ang solusyon ay dagdag na kapasidad," he said.
But the Palace official said they are also pursuing renewable energy options using increased private sector investments in hydroelectric, biomass, and solar power.
Coloma meanwhile said Energy Sec. Carlos Jericho Petilla "continues to enjoy the trust and confidence of the President" despite the power problem. — JDS, GMA News