Monthly Archives: September 2010

Rural folk to take active role in protecting Mindanao ’s resources

BusinessWeek Mindanao
Sherwin B. Manual
September 24, 2010

The alarming issue on climate change has stirred everyone’s concern for the environment.

With this, the continuing environmental conservation projects of the World Bank funded Mindanao Rural Development Program (MRDP) pushes for stronger local communities’ participation by putting them at the forefront of projects implementation.

The Natural Resources Management (NRM) component of MRDP is now using revised Community-Driven Development approach in all its environment projects.

Covering the uplands, lowlands and coastal areas, NRM mainstreams the protection and conservation of the environment noting that activities in the uplands have a downstream impact in the coastal areas.

Through CDD procedures, the members of the people organizations will be capacitated to procure, implement and manage the projects entrusted to them.
“This (CDD procurement) process will contribute to a substantial improvement in implementation and fiduciary management of subprojects by shortening the approval processes and such will fast-track acquisition of needed inputs and delivery of services while clearly delineating accountability, enhance transparency and community accountability, ” said program director Lealyn A. Ramos.
Ramos said the harmonized procurement manual will guide the local government units and POs in procuring works, goods and services.
CDD approach is pilot-tested in Gigaquit, Surigao del Norte, one of the Program’s year-two covered NRM towns. Gigaquit town will implement a P7 million worth of projects that include 10-kilometer river bank stabilization of Ba-oy river, 50-hectare mangrove rehabilitation, 46-hectare fish sanctuary and upland agro-reforestation benefiting the Mamanwa tribe.

Aside from the environmental conservation projects, CDD procedures will also be used in the program’s Community Fund for Agricultural Development (CFAD) component.

CFAD, the livelihood component of the program, aims to improve incomes of small farmers and fisherfolk by forming among them agri-based entrepreneurs.

To date, about P87.01 million worth of various agri-based livelihoods were created benefiting mostly women and Indigenous Peoples.

MRDP is a long-term poverty alleviation program of the Department of Agriculture jointly funded by the World Bank, the national and local governments.

Mindanao power supply critical; gov’t acts to avert crisis

By Amy R. Remo
Philippine Daily Inquirer

EXPECTING A tight power supply in the fourth quarter, the Department of Energy has started mobilizing short-term solutions for Mindanao, including the possible rehabilitation of power plants
currently placed under “preservation” mode.

“We had an emergency meeting to discuss the current power situation as well as make preparations for the power requirements in the last quarter of the year in Mindanao. Details of proposed solutions are currently being studied due to legal and technical aspects,” said Energy Secretary Jose Rene D. Almendras.

Almendras said that studies were being undertaken for the various options that could be implemented, which also included demand-side management and the use of available power-generation facilities “in a manner that will not drive the electricity cost too high.”

He said all concerned energy agencies would continue to meet weekly until a viable short-term solution has been put in place. These agencies included National Power Corp., National Electrification Administration, National Transmission Corp. and National Grid Corp. of the Philippines.

“The stakeholders and relevant parties will continuously be consulted,” he added.

The energy chief, however, did not say how much the shortfall in capacity in Mindanao would be by the end of the year. He disclosed earlier that the government expected a power supply shortage of only 50 megawatts on the island by 2011, if all the hydropower plants continued to operate at full capacities.

Should the country experience another El Niño as what happened earlier this year, the deficit would become bigger.

“Mindanao, in the past, has been reliant on hydroelectric power
for its affordability. However, in light of a protracted dry season this year, questions on its reliability have been made apparent,” Almendras said.

Mindanao sources more than half of its electricity requirements from hydropower sources, with the Agus-Pulangi hydropower complex providing about 900 MW.

Due to its heavy reliance on this particular source, Mindanao has been the most adversely affected by the prolonged drought this year as the reduced water levels at the dams drastically cut power-generating capacities to less than 10 percent.

“The DOE is keen on placing short-term solutions which will [lead] to a solution with more permanency. While placing secure and quality sources of energy is a major concern for Mindanao, the DOE is also putting emphasis on more power-generation investments from diverse sources on the island,” he added.

Almendras earlier said that he wanted the Mindanao grid to have at least 500 MW in base load generation from non-hydro sources like coal to insulate the island from severe power outages and unstable supply in the near future.

As of Wednesday, the Mindanao grid posted a power supply deficit of 117 MW.

Mindanao needs 500 MW in non-hydro power capacity

By Amy R. Remo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted September 19, 2010

MANILA, Philippines—Energy Secretary Jose Rene D. Almendras wants the Mindanao grid to have at least 500 megawatts (MW) in baseload generation capacity from non-hydro sources such as coal, to insulate the island from severe power outages and unstable supply in the near future.

“Our problem in Mindanao is our overdependence on hydropower,” Almendras said.

With climate change and the dry spell brought about by the El Niño phenomenon, water resources get scarce, threatening power supply in Mindanao, he said.

Almendras said the 500 MW of non-hydro baseload generation capacity was needed in Mindanao “since we cannot predict exactly what the water levels will be in Mindanao in the coming years.”

At present, Mindanao gets more than half of its electricity requirements from hydropower sources, with the Agus-Pulangi hydropower complex providing more than 900 MW. The drought experienced early this year reduced the water levels at the dams and cut power generating capacities on the island to less than 10 percent.

“Estimates show that power supply shortfall in Mindanao will only be 50 MW in 2011 but that is because of the assumption that all the hydropower plants will be on stream all year round. In order to insulate Mindanao from power outages, the most ideal thing is to install 500 MW of non hydro capacity,” Almendras said.

Over the next 20 years, Mindanao would need 2,500 MW in new capacity, according to Almendras.

He admitted that given the present situation, Mindanao must rely on clean coal-fired facilities to provide the additional capacity.

The good news, he said, was that the government had received commitments from private companies to push through with their coal projects in Mindanao.

Almendras said Conal Holdings Corp. of the Alcantara family would push through with the 200-MW coal facility (SM 200) in Sarangani, the first phase for which will start operating by 2012 while Phase 2 will be available by 2013. The same company, he added, will put up another 100-MW coal facility in Zamboanga (ZAM 100).

Steag State Power, Inc—composed of Aboitiz Power Corp., Evonik Steag GmbH of Essen, Germany, and the La Filipina Uy Gongco Corp.—is seen putting up a 200-MW coal plant in Misamis Oriental, he added.

“Although there is no definite schedule yet, we are in talks with them for a possible 24-month implementation,” he added.

The energy chief further admitted however that electricity prices in Mindanao would have to increase gradually to reflect the true cost of power and encourage the private sector
to infuse investments into the power sector on the island.

“The bigger challenge in Mindanao is the price. Our brothers in Mindanao have benefited from the low cost of hydro generation all these years, and going by the balance of power and supply, we cannot afford to put in too much technology that will result in a spike in the prices,” Almendras said.

Stable power supply seen as Lake Lanao water level goes up

Goldstar Daily
Mike Banos
September 17, 2010
SHORT of assuring the public there would not be a repeat of the brownouts that devastated Mindanao last summer, the National Power Corp. (Napocor) said Lake Lanao would attain its ideal water level soon, assuring a steady supply of electricity in the next year’s dry months.

“The water level at Lake Lanao has now reached 700.89 meters and we believe it would attain the ideal level target of 701.10 meters by year end, given present trends in the weather,” said Engr. Jerese Irese Lagapa, department manager of Napocor’s Operations and Dispatch Department which controls the dispatch of electricity from the various power plants of the Mindanao power grid.

Responding to questions regarding last summer’s power crisis at the Mindanao Power Crisis Forum hosted Sept. 16 by Xavier University, Lagapa also dispelled persistent reports that the power crisis which hit Mindanao was deliberate and man-made.

“We have shifted from the previous minimum thermal mode of operation to using the operational rule curve since 2004,” Lagapa said.

She said the water level of Lake Lanao for the last quarter of 2009 was very low due to the onset of the El Niño phenomenon and a confluence of other factors, but not because it was deliberately depleted by Napocor personnel.

The questions regarding the water level at Lake Lanao arose following a presentation by Therma Marine Inc. (TMI) executive vice president and chief operations officer Jovy Batiquin on the controversial Ancillary Services Power Agreement (Aspa) between TMI and the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP).

Batiquin said the two power barges acquired by TMI from Napocor had been put “in the garage, with engine running and driver ready to go” but had not been dispatched by NGCP despite the occurrence of a power deficiency in the Mindanao grid earlier this week.

Rotating brownouts again hit Southern Mindanao earlier this week following the scheduled commissioning of the Maramag-Kibawe 138-kilovolt transmission line by the NGCP and a call for voluntary load curtailment in Cotabato province, fuelling fears that a “scenario” was being deliberately played out in Mindanao to pave the way for a price increase in generation and transmission tariffs.

Both Napocor and NGCP have pending applications for rate hikes with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

‘Information Crisis’

Participants in the open forum appealed to Napocor and the energy department to be more transparent in updating the public especially consumers about the latest power situation in Mindanao to avoid needless speculations.

Meanwhile, Xavier University president Jose Ramon Villarin said the “real crisis” is on “information”.

Power curtailment hits Mindanao anew

The Philippines Star
By Roel Pareno
September 18, 2010

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines-
Power curtailment has again hit a vast area of Mindanao just as President Aquino expressed hope that he could end the power crisis on the vast island before his term ends in 2016.

This, as the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) issued a red alert notice not because of dwindling water levels but of technical problems in power plants.

Mindanao, which is largely dependent on hydroelectric power, has been experiencing power shortage due to low water supply since February due to the El Niño-caused dry spell.

In an alert notice issued to the Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative (Zamcelco), NGCP manager Reynerio Ramos said two-hour curtailment in the power supply will again be experienced daily.

The NCGP said it issued the red alert notice effective yesterday, explaining that its contingency reserve is already zero due to planned outage of the Pulangi 4 hydroelectric power plant; the Agus 6, which is supplying only 20 megawatts; and the emergency shutdown of Agus 2.

The power curtailment was also due to the reduced capability of the Agus power plants and the Pulangi hydroelectric plant.

The non-operation of the APTM1 and APTM2 power barges due to transmission line constraints also contributed to the power curtailment.

Mr. Aquino, who was in Davao del Sur Thursday to inaugurate the 42.5-MW Sibulan hydropower project, which is seen to make a significant contribution to the Mindanao power grid, was hoping the power crisis in Mindanao, which he described as a “nightmare,” would be over soon.