Power supply assured in M’danao for polls

By Juzel L. Danganan

THE Department of Energy (DOE) is working on stabilizing power supply in the Mindanao grid to ensure there is sufficient energy supply for the elections next year.
”That’s our target– to ensure there’s sufficient power during the elections, because how will they vote,” DOE Secretary Zenaida Monsada said at the sidelines of the Philippine Heart Center Solar Panel Inauguration Tuesday.
She noted that the department expects an additional capacity of 450 megawatts (MW) for Mindanao by the first quarter of 2016.
For his part, Energy Utilization Management Bureau (EUMB) director Atty. Patrick Aquino said the first unit of Therma South, Inc. is already online.
Aquino added that San Miguel’s power plant in Malita, Davao will start commissioning next month, while it is expected to start commercial operations by the first quarter of next year.
The secretary also assured the right-of-way (ROW) issues in Mindanao is being solved through inter-agency efforts, comprised of local government units (LGUs), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Army (PA).
Last week, a bomb exploded in Marawi City, destroying two of the transmission towers of grid-operator National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), which carries the power lines connecting the Mindanao grid to Agus 1 and 2.
Monsada explained that the bombing is likely not election related, as one tower was blown into smithereens early this year.
She called on the public to report suspicious-looking men to the authorities. Monsada stressed another possible bombing along the Agus power plant was prevented due to reports from the public.
With the expected surplus, on the other hand, Monsada said the DOE has tapped the Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC) to prepare for the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) integration of Mindanao through a report.
She added that the report will likely be completed by the first quarter of next year. It consists of the preparations of generation companies and distribution utilities.
The secretary also said the DOE expects the surplus of power supply in Mindanao by the second quarter of next year, adding a market should be activated by that time.
Monsada bared the El Niño phenomenon had pushed back the excess in power capacity for Mindanao to the second quarter of 2016, which was initially expected during the first quarter.
On Tuesday, the NGCP also said in a statement that the Mindanao grid was on red alert, with a shortage of 40 megawatts.
The grid operator stressed the power supply was improved by the return of coal-fired STEAG State Power Inc. (SPI) and the Mt. Apo geothermal, as power from Agus 1 and 2 was cut due to the bombing last week.
NGCP assured it is working to restore the Baloi-Agus 2 line.
The grid operator appeals to the public to help monitor the safety of its towers.
“If anyone sees anything suspicious at or around our towers and facilities, please inform us immediately. You may text us your tips and other information at 09178791077,” NGCP said. (PNA)

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