Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Power crisis in Mindanao now a reality-DOE

The Department of Energy confirmed that the supposedly looming power crisis in Mindanao is already happening.

This was the revelation made by DOE undersecretary Zamzamin Ampatuan, who said the power crisis everyone is talking about already exists and will get worse if the agencies and companies concerned are not able to provide a solution by end of the year.

“Indeed there is a shortage.” Ampatuan said the critical period has been known to the government, especially from the DOE’s point of view, as early as 2007. But for Mindanao, he added the critical period has already started this 2009 but the solution is still unclear.

He said the immediate solution identified by the government includes the putting up of new power plants. However, he said, only three power plants are actually committed but it will take about three years to get all of them done.

Among the three projects are the Sibulan Hydro which is currently being done, the Mindanao 3 at the peak of Mt. Apo which is on the way to completion and the Kabulig Hydro which is experiencing some problems

“And even if these guaranteed power plants are completed they will still be short of the projected shortage of around 400MW,” Ampatuan said.

The Conal Holdings Corporation of the Alcantaras has unveiled a $450 million coal-fired power plant in Sarangani Province, which can generate up to 200MW of power but Ampatuan said this would be up by 2013 and would probably be enough to sustain the requirement to be subsistent.

The DOE projected a peak demand of at least 1,525MW for the Mindanao power grid and that projection does not even include the increase in demand when the big malls like Robinsons and SM City start to operate in General Santos City.

National Grid Corporation of the Philippines Gensan manager Manuel Jamoy earlier said that they are projecting a required capacity of 2,556MW for the Mindanao Grid by 2014.

He said Mindanao needs new power plants by December but even the DOE is at a lost as to where this power requirement can be sourced from. “By December we are not expecting any new power plant to be up,” he said.

The projected operation of the Sibulan plant will be a little solution, he said, but it will not address the whole problem that we will face by December.
“The challenge of putting up something quick is very serious,” he said. While the country is faced with another political exercise in 2010, there is only one thing that will address the problem of a power crisis in Mindanao and the whole country and that is to be more efficient in terms of power usage.

A DOE program is eyeing to save between 400 to 500MW of power, which is equal to one power plant, through the used of incandescent bulbs. Also included in the solution is the construction of energy-efficient buildings.

“These are quick solutions that are immediately doable; everybody can be a participant from the poorest to the richest,” he said. If all of these are adopted, he added, we can save as much as 2000MW of power in one year.

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