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 NiÃ±o 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).
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”.