Power consumers in Mindanao may have to brace for longer outages next year as the expected supply crunch may peak to as much as 300 megawatts during the summer, much higher than the previous projection of a 200-MW shortfall.
In a yearend briefing on Monday, Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla explained that the power supply shortage, ranging anywhere from 100 MW to 300 MW, will largely depend on the output of the hydropower complexes, which supply roughly 50 percent of Mindanao’s electricity requirements.
If the impending drought will dry up the rivers from which these power facilities are connected, a 300-MW shortage will be possible, thus stretching the length of the rotating brownouts, he added.
The energy chief noted that in November, certain areas in Mindanao were already experiencing outages lasting as long as six hours a day.
As of Monday, the power supply deficit stood at only 87 MW, based on data from the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines.
Petilla was quick to clarify that not all areas in Mindanao will be adversely affected by potentially severe power outages next year, citing the case of Davao where the distribution utility there has embedded capacities it can tap to help plug the shortfall.
For now, the Department of Energy, according to Petilla, is banking primarily on the private sector to help ease this shortfall, as the agency’s earlier plan to privatize and transfer three 32-MW diesel fired power barges from Visayas to Mindanao did not materialize.
More specifically, the DOE is planning to tap the large commercial firms in Mindanao like the SM Malls and Dole Philippines to run their respective fuel-fired generator sets at certain periods, instead of sourcing their needed capacities from the Mindanao grid.
This way, the capacities they will give up can be used to power other areas in Mindanao. At the same time, these companies that will voluntarily give up their loads will be compensated under the Interim Mindanao Electricity Market (IMEM).
“We’ll find a way to compensate [these firms] on a short-term basis,” Petilla said.