2019 Philippine elections

Over 4-hour-long brownouts in Mindanao looming

The summer months may mean rotating brownouts in parts of Mindanao that could last an average of 4-8 hours a day, an energy official warned

MANILA, Philippines – With the coming summer months that threaten to reduce levels at water systems that keep hydroelectric power plants running in Mindanao, the Department of Energy officials warned that consumers in the southern parts of the country may experience longer power interruptions.

At a press conference on Thursday, February 16, energy undersecretary Josefina Patricia Asirit said consumers in some parts of Mindanao are already experiencing about 2 to 4 hours of rotating brownouts everyday.

She said these brownouts could worsen to an average of 4 to 8 hours during the summer months.

Around the summer months of March to May, demand for energy is higher as consumers blast their appliances to keep up with the heat. The hot months, however, is also when the water levels of the dams are depleted, affecting the hydropower plant’s ability to generate electricity.

Hydropower facilities in Mindanao, particularly the Agus-Pulangui hydroelectric power plants that are dependent on the Lanao Lake and Pulangi River, supply more than 50% of the Mindanao grid’s power requirements.  

“Supply is insufficient. The daily average curtailment we see is 150 megawatts (MW) to 200-MW, which should be addressed. We see that curtailment to increase by summer when the demand for power is high,” Asirit said.

Tight supply

While the needed additional capacity of 150MW to 200MW is needed this 2012 and 2013, the committed capacity for this year is only 8-MW with the rest is coming only in 2014 and 2015. Below is the breakdown of expected additional capacity:

  • 2012 – 8-MW Cabulig hydroelectric power plant
  • 2013 – none
  • 2014 – 50-MW Mount Apo geothermal power plant and 100-MW Conal coal fired power plant
  • 2015 – 100-MW Conal coal fired power plant

“The Mindanao grid is experiencing tightness in supply because we have no reserves that are actually available for dispatch. And when we say it’s not available, it does not mean that there is a plant that’s down or offline. But rather there are generation capacities that are not being nominated for dispatch,” she said.

In 2010, the Mindanao also suffered rotating brownouts particularly when the El Nino phenomenon affected and depleted the water levels of the hydropower facilities in Mindanao, which supplies more than 50% of the grid’s power requirements.

Electric cooperatives

Asirit said they have identified certain areas where electric cooperatives have existing power supply agreement with a private generation company but are not able to place their orders due to some processes these cooperatives are questioning.

Energy Secretary Jose Rene Almendras had said that the cooperatives can purchase about 100-MW of undispatched power, which could be a crucial buffer during the crucial summer months.  

Almendras said the energy department will discuss with the regional council of the National Economic Development Authority their short term and long-term action plans for Mindanao.

These plans include the uprating or rehabilitation of existing hydroelectric power plants, sale of Power Barge 104, transfer of Power Barges 101, 102 and 103 after its privatization and the operation of the Iligan Diesel Power Plant. – Rappler.com