Tag Archives: El Nino phenomenon

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”.