MCPC moves for house probe into Mindanao Power Shortage

Apr 3, 2014



The Mindanao Coalition of Power Consumers is pressing the House of Representatives Committee on Energy to probe the allegedly anomalous dispatch of government owned power plants in Mindanao, and the unexplained reduction in the dependable capacities of its hydroelectric power plants, believed to be the root cause of the persistent power shortage in the island.


Agus7 Hydroelectric Power Plant


“The main objectives of the investigation would be to accelerate the repair and rehabilitation of the Agus and Pulangi power plants and their waterways; and to get the System Operator to operate the government-owned and controlled power plants strictly in accordance with the Rule Curve for Lake Lanao, because this is the only way to optimize the storage capacity of the Lake and ensure that there will be adequate capacity in Mindanao during the summer months,” said David A. Tauli, MCPC president.


Tauli said a corollary objective of the investigation of the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) charged with the operation and maintenance of the power plants formerly operated by the National Power Corporation (Napocor), is to get them to restore to the electric cooperatives and other customers their contracted capacities as of year-end 2009, which the PSALM unilaterally reduced by 20 percent in 2010 and again by the same amount in 2013.


“We expect the result of this investigation to be an order to the PSALM-NPC to rehabilitate their power plants and to further develop the waterways of Agus and Pulangi in order to increase the generation of the hydroelectric power plants,” he explained. “We also expect that the operation and maintenance of the Mindanao generating plants will be restored to the NPC Mindanao Generation, and that NPC MinGen will be ordered to maximize the generation of government-owned and controlled power plants, and to operate the Agus hydropower plants strictly in accordance with the Load Curve for Lake Lanao, in order to ensure optimum utilization of the storage capacity of the Lake.”


House Energy Committee Chair Rey Umali in a huddle with fellow Congressmen shortly before the start of the public hearing on the IMEM held March 6 in Cagayan de Oro City.


“The investigation of PSALM should include investigation into the System Operations that have been carried out by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) since 2010, including their failure to contract for adequate reserves after the termination of their ancillary service power agreement (ASPA) contract with the Therma Marine Inc. (TMI) power barges,” Tauli said.


Earlier, the MCPC spearheaded a campaign to have the Interim Mindanao Electricity Market (IMEM) suspended following perceived design and operational deficiencies resulting in the House Committee on Energy unanimously passing a resolution for its suspension during a public hearing held in Cagayan de Oro City on March 6, 2014.


“Until now, we hear of the same comments attributed to Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC) that it is the Mindanaoans that do not know what the rules are supposed to be and have no knowledge on market operations,” noted Clint Django Pacana, executive director of the Association of Mindanao Rural Electric Cooperatives (AMRECO), the umbrella organization of Mindanao’s 33 rural electric cooperatives. “A categorical statement came out that the IMEM was suspended because ECs are not ready.”


“We should disseminate the truth of our experience with the IMEM for the better understanding even by the common tao but also the policy-makers and executives as well in the power industry, since some of these guys, expressed ambivalence on how to react on strong manifestations against the PEMC,” Pacana said. “I dared in forums that each should not take what speakers say as gospel truth, but verify and research more for enhancement. Meanwhile, each of as maintains good intentions for our salvation from this mess.”


To address Mindanao’s power shortage in the short term, the MCPC is advocating for the establishment of a central purchasing agency for all distribution utilities which would coordinate the purchase of the generation of embedded generators or any other generators that can make their production available to the Grid as proposed by Dr. Ricardo Rotoras, D’Engg., president of the Mindanao University of Science and Technology (MUST) and head of the AMRECO think tank Institute for Power Sector Economics (IPSEc) during a series of power for a held over the last two years.


“The details of the central purchasing agency need to be worked out through meetings among generators, distributors, and consumer representatives. We can get the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) to coordinate,” Tauli said.


House Energy Committee Member Rep. Ed Masongsong meets stalwarts of the Mindanao Coalition of Power Consumers shortly before the public hearing on IMEM held March 6 in Cagayan de Oro City.


MCPC has also identified optimizing the dispatch of government owned power plants controlled by the PSALM, particularly the hydroelectric power plants on the Agus and Pulangi rivers, as another immediate solution to the current power shortage.


 For the solution to the long-term power shortage that would result in adequate, affordable and sustainable power supply for Mindanao from 2018 onward, the MCPC will be carrying out information, education, and communication campaigns among consumer groups, non-government organizations, and community organizations to get their local governments to implement renewable energy power plants as economic enterprise projects in partnership with the private sector, Tauli added.


The end result of this campaign will be renewable energy power plants (hydroelectric power plants are the least-cost sources of electric energy in Mindanao; in 2018 onward, electricity from hydro plants will be selling at P4.00 or less per kilowatt-hour and electricity from coal plants will be selling at P6.00 or more per kWh), owned by the people through their local governments, contributing revenues to the LGUs for use in providing services to their citizens, and providing enough power supply for all of Mindanao.



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