City gov’t steps in to help shorten brownouts PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 16 May 2015 13:31

By SHEILA COVARRUBIAS

With the worsening power situation, the City Government has stepped up initiatives to help the Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative (Zamcelco) expedite workable solutions to the problem.

Mayor Beng Climaco through an executive order and the City Council through an incentives ordinance helped jumpstart the Interruptible Load Program (ILP) with an initial participation of two huge companies last Thursday. May 14. The two companies- Permex Exporters and Ayala Sea Foods Corp are jointly capable of saving 4 megawatts translating to a one hour reduction in power curtailment.

The ILP is a short term solution where consumers or companies with loads of at least 1MW are asked to run their own generator sets during peak hours instead of drawing power from the grid. Initial computations by Zamcelco, the prime mover of the ILP, a minimum of 10MW will be generated if the initially identified 15 business and industrial companies will participate in the load shedding program.

EO BC 113-2015 enjoins Zamcelco to exhaust all means to implement the ILP in a bid to reduce the 6-hour daily rotational power interruptions in the city. And to complement the mayor’s order, the City Council approved Ordinance 2015-15 granting incentives to commercial and industrial companies enrolled in the ILP adopted by Zamcelco to address power outages in the city. The measure was certified by the mayor as urgent that led to its swift passage.

While other cities are also implementing the ILP scheme, it is only in Zamboanga where the local government offers incentives to ILP participants.

On recommendations of Zambo Ecozone chair Christopher Arnuco, studies are also being made to branch out the ILP scheme to government offices utilizing huge generator sets in a bid to further increase power savings, thereby shortening power interruptions.

Mayor Climaco said her administration is firm in placing Zamboangueno’s welfare at the forefront, with the power sector being managed as a basic public utility and not as an arena for profit maximization.

The power outages which occur on an annual basis due to insufficient power supply warrants long term solutions, according to Go. The hydropower plants in Mindanao are already running on full capacity requiring additional base load generating capacity.

“As long as there are no new baseload plants, problems in capacity and shortage will persist. Zamcelco needs to comply with nomination, dispatch and curtailment protocols, “ Go attested adding that the Energy Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) which mandates the privatization of the power sector has yet to put into practice the theory that competition will eliminate the few monopolies, thereby delivering cheaper and efficient electricity.

In the aspect of long term solutions, the City Government is also trying to wield its influence in the search for additional power supply, rehabilitation of power plants and capacity sharing among grids.

Zamcelco recently signed a new contract with TSI for 5mw in 25 years and purchased modular gensets from Ireland to generate 12mw forecasting the deficit to be down to 7mw later part of this year. In January 2016, the cooperative is said to contract 50mw from the Western Mindanao Power Corporation for 10 years and still in the pipeline are Philcarbon Inc’s .1MW and SRPI’s Coal-fired power station of 100mw.

Zamboanga City’s present power requirement is 90mw but the current supply reaches only 66mw with a deficit of 24mw or roughly 6 hours rotational brownouts daily. The average demand growth rate is pegged at 4%.

Meanwhile, Zamcelco general manager Engr. George Ledesma explained that Zamcelco’s deficit margin on a daily basis is dependent on the advice of NGCP but when there is additional abnormality such as what happened last April 22 where  manual shutdown of Agus 4 unit no. 3 was implemented by PSALM, the deficit varies. The deficit that day reached 30MW that translated to twice a day interruption at total of 6-8 hours outages. Again, last April 15 Therma Marine 1 Unit no. 2 tripped off with a load of 30MW equivalent curtailment to Zamcelco that translated to 3 times a day at 8 hours curtailment.

Other than the trip-off episodes, the recent prolonged power outages were also caused by NGCP-initiated shutdown activities to give way to maintenance repair work. — Sheila Covarrubias