Power shortage looms anew in Mindanao

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01:14 AM February 28th, 2013

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By: Ronnel W. Domingo, February 28th, 2013 01:14 AM

A repeat of the power crisis in Mindanao in the summer months this year and in 2014 is very likely, according to the government think-tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies.

It said the crippling power crisis in the hottest months of 2012 might recur because no additional baseload power-generating capacity has been installed on the island.

Baseload power generation supplies the minimum or normal electricity requirements of consumers, including households, businesses and other organizations. Other power plants run to address the peaking of electricity use at certain times of the day.

PIDS senior research fellow Adoracion Navarro observed that electricity demand in Mindanao has continuously spiked through the years with rapid urbanization and increased industrialization. Consolidated forecasts on demand for the period 2010-2019 showed an annual average demand growth of 4.28 percent in Mindanao, higher than the nationwide 3.63 percent.

Navarro noted that, based on data from the Department of Energy, power plants in Mindanao accounted for dependable generating capacity totaling 1,616 megawatts (MW). However, about two-thirds of such capacity or 1,038 MW represented hydropower plants such as the Agus and Pulangui facilities.

These plants, the study said, might ironically not be dependable in the summer months because of worsening deforestation of watersheds and siltation of river systems in Mindanao.

Also based on DOE data, only 37 percent of power plant capacity in Mindanao addressed the baseload. In comparison, baseload capacity in Luzon and the Visayas were pegged at 63 percent and 72 percent, respectively. Mindanao’s peak demand could reach 1,428 MW this year and 1, 823 MW by 2019.

Considering that there should be a reserve margin of at least 21 percent of peak demand, according to the DOE, the total generation capacity in Mindanao should be 1,728 MW in 2013 and 2,206 MW in 2019.

With the state of dependable capacity in Mindanao, “the power system could run a reserve shortfall of 112 MW for this year—a clear sign that last year’s power crisis may happen again,” Navarro said.

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