DOE offers remedies to power shortage PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 18 March 2013 11:26

Energy Secretary Carlos Petilla during the Zamboanga Power Forum Friday properly and substantially informed residents of the City about the power situation in Mindanao and presented various options that will hopefully arrest brownouts specifically in Zamboanga City in four weeks to 2 months’ time.

However, he emphasized the remedies can only happen if Zamcelco will contract the power and if the people of Zamboanga are willing to pay the price as what some areas are doing.

The power forum, sanctioned by President Aquino, was a coordinated effort of the Mindanao Development Authority under Chair and Sec. Luwalhati Antonino, the DOE and the City Government to clarify and explain about the power situation in Mindanao and Zamboanga as well as offer short, medium and long term solutions to the power problem.

Sec. Antonino presented the forum overview and updates on the Mindanao Power Monitoring Committee, which she chairs. Zamcelco board president Bong Atilano presented the Zamboanga city power situation.

“There are actually options for Zamboanga where they can get their power and when they get their power the brownouts will hopefully be arrested, but if you ask me will it be solved by tomorrow? I don’t think so, by next week? I don’t think so but sooner than probably than any other area in the Mindanao region because there are basically available options for them and that will probably cover the majority of the deficit,” Sec. Petilla said.

He continued: “This is not to say there won’t be any power failure once everything is in place but it will considerably minimize, IF and IF Zamcelco actually contracts this power, kasi hindi ito binibigay, this will be negotiated and power sale agreements (PSAs) will be signed”.

The short term options offered include the 5 megawatts (MW) from the Iligan Diesel Plant; another 5MW from Iligan Diesel supposedly contracted to Holcim Corporation but which is willing to give way to Zamcelco but only until September this year and the 5MW from the SPPC, another diesel plant operated by the Alcantara Group. By 3rd week of April or 1st week of May, the PSA signed by Zamcelco with Mapalad Corporation will commence with its first 5MW (out of the total 18MW supply), which would mean a total of 22MW more for Zamboanga City.

Zamcelco, Petilla said, also has the option to contract with Areco, another private corporation based in Dubai which can supply as much as 20MW diesel power and the DOE-NEA option which can provide another 10MW.

“These are all options which are actually available to Zamcelco. These are not done deals. If they take these then you will arrest brownouts in this particular city”, he said but continued: “Let me emphasize, it will take sometime, when I say take some time, it’s not gonna be tomorrow, it’s going to be anywhere from 4 weeks to 8 weeks”.

According to Petilla, Zamcelco’s deficit is somewhere between 22-35MW and the proposed options can very well suffice the deficit. And all these options or contracts with the diesel plants are short term contracts and can be terminated once the coal-fired power plant comes in by 2016.

All of the options offered however, have varied stages to undergo and these would include the signing of the contracts, the ERC provisional authority and all other legal procedures.  

Sec. Petilla reiterated that the remedies and solutions can come within the next four weeks to two months if Zamcelco will sign the contract the soonest possible time and that the people are amenable to the rates. “The good thing is if you all agree to take in the power, Zamboanga will be the first one to arrest this problem in Mindanao and my problem is that the other cities will run after me to ask for solutions, so please don’t spread the word”.

On questions as to why Davao and Cagayan de Oro are not suffering brownouts despite the fact that the power crisis is Mindanao-wide, the DOE Secretary said these areas have embedded generator sets operated by private companies and which charge higher rates.

“If I rank areas according to rates, one of the most expensive electric rates is in Metro Manila at P12/KWH and one of the cheapest is actually Mindanao include Zamboanga City at P6.20/KWH but if I also rank it according to brownouts, number one is Mindanao at ang walang brownout ay Metro Manila”, he said.

“So if we are going to arrest the problem, we have to pay the price”, Petilla affirmed.

The problem also with embedded generator sets, Petilla said, is that when there is available power supply, such as the coal plants, the generators will not be in use but the people or consumers will have to pay for the cost for the maintenance of the gen sets.

The government, he also explained, under the EPIRA law, cannot purchase generator sets as well as go into the utility business. — Sheila Covarrubias