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South Philippines power shortfall goes from bad to worse

Publication Date : 03-10-2012


Power consumers in Mindanao in south Philippines will have to brace themselves for a more severe power shortfall starting this month when the 210-megawatt coal-fired power plant of Steag State Power Inc. in Misamis Oriental undergoes preventive maintenance.

In an e-mail to reporters, Steag communications officer Jerome R. Soldevilla said the 105-MW Unit 1 will be shut down from October 6 to November 4 this year, while the 105-MW Unit 2 will be closed for repairs from October 29 to November 10. This means that maintenance work on the two power units will coincide for roughly one week.

“Carrying out the maintenance work as planned…will bring in long-term benefits for Mindanao power consumers in terms of the power plant’s operational reliability,” Soldevilla explained.

This is the first time Steag State Power will undertake extended repair work since the facility started operating in November 2006, he added.

Maintenance work on the power plant was recommended by the Mindanao Grid Operations and Maintenance Planning Group composed of National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), the National Power Corp. and its Independent Power Producers (IPPs), Soldevilla said.

“The timing takes into consideration the power plant’s operations and maintenance guidelines, as well as the projected electricity demand-supply condition of Mindanao during the period. The overarching goal is to minimise the possible adverse impact of power supply shortfall on the island,” he explained.

The shutdown may further worsen the already precarious power supply situation in Mindanao, which continues to register supply shortages since late last year. As of Tuesday, the supply deficit stood at 173 MW, according to data from the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines.

In a phone interview, NGCP spokesperson Cynthia Alabanza admitted that the Mindanao grid has no enough reserves and cannot replace the capacity that will be lost once the coal plant shuts down.

The reality is that the situation has not changed, Alabanza said. No new capacity has come in to augment the power supply in Mindanao.

But in a separate phone interview, Energy Undersecretary Josefina Asirit downplayed the shutdown of the Mindanao coal plant, noting that outages may only last roughly two hours or even less during peak hours, and only in certain areas.

Asirit explained that the Department of Energy (DoE) would strictly limit the power load that distribution firms could withdraw from the grid.
She also said that the energy department may be able to maximise the capacity to be generated by the large hydropower plants—the Agus and Pulangi facilities.

The DoE is also expecting private companies and utilities to use their own facilities (i.e., diesel plants) to address their respective power demands.


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