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DOE: Fewer electric coops in Mindanao experiencing power outages

By: Amy R. Remo, April 3rd, 2012 03:16 PM

MANILA, Philippines—Fewer electric cooperatives in Mindanao are continuing to experience rotating brownouts, as the power supply deficit already fell to roughly 160 megawatts, compared to the previous months’ shortage of 360 MW, according to the Department of Energy.

The DOE claimed that this was a result of the DOE’s issuance of a department circular, which had helped rationalize the power supply in the island by mandating electric cooperatives to source and nominate their needed power—even from the more expensive diesel-fired facilities—to supply their own electricity requirements.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the DOE said that the areas of Malaybalay, Dipolog, Dapitan, Valencia, Camiguin, Panabo, Digos, Tagum, Mati, Cotabato, Surigao, Butuan, and Cabadbaran are no longer experiencing power interruptions as a result of the circular.

There are, however, a number of areas without power as the supply deficit stood at 137 MW as of Tuesday, according to data from the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines.

Other solutions

Energy Secretary Jose Rene D. Almendras noted that alongside this measure, the DOE is also evaluating other solutions to help shore up the much needed power supply in Mindanao.

The other measures being eyed included the operation of the Iligan diesel power plant (IDPP), which will be able to produce an initial 15 MW to 20 MW and may increase upon rehabilitation, and the improvements of the 700-MW Agus and Pulangui hydropower complex.

The Pulangui plant will be rehabilitated this month and DOE is already studying ways on how to mitigate its effect on the power supply, while the Agus Plant, meanwhile, will be rehabilitated in June, Almendras said.

Power situation in Mindanao is also expected to improve as electric cooperatives get provisional authorities for the bilateral power service by the Energy Regulatory Commission.

To date, electric cooperatives have already contracted an aggregate total of 192 MW of which around 20 MW is still subject to ERC’s issuance of provisional authority.

“We hope that electric cooperatives, power generators, and all other stakeholders will continue to cooperate to temporarily address the power situation in Mindanao and this will be a good start towards a long-term measure needed to provide a stable power supply in the region,” Almendras said.

Bill on solar roofs

Meanwhile, in a separate statement, Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño had called on the House Energy committee headed by Batanes Rep. Dina Abad to fast track House Bill 5405 or his proposed One Million Solar Roofs Act as well as other initiatives to address the Mindanao power crisis and looming shortage in Luzon.

“We are urging the Energy committee to hold hearings during the Congress break to tackle the bill and other legislation to address the power crisis. This will get the ball rolling for renewable energy as the long term and sustainable solution to the power problem,” he said.

“We will also closely coordinate with the office of Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago who filed a similar bill in the Senate (SB No.2751), so that we will have a faster and stronger push for the One Million Solar Roofs because this can really be a big help in solving the crisis at the earliest time possible,” Casiño added.

Casiño explained that Congress should fast track the bill which provides incentives and financing facilities to ordinary electricity consumers like residences, offices and small to medium business establishments who want to put up their own solar power systems.

It will also allow homeowners and entrepreneurs to take out loans from Pag-Ibig, GSIS, SSS and other financial institutions to purchase solar panels and pay the amount from the ensuing savings in their electricity bills.

“With government harnessing the solar resources of the country and providing for incentives for massive deployment of solar energy systems, the prospects of attaining energy independence from oil companies and significantly lowering electricity prices in the medium-term are realizable,” Casiño said.

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