Longer brownouts in Mindanao this summer

MANILA, Philippines – Residents and businessmen in Mindanao should brace for longer brownouts in summer with no new capacity to support power demand in the region, according to state-owned think tank Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS).

A PIDS study written by Senior Research Fellow Adoracion Navarro warned that brownouts in Mindanao might mirror the 10-hour long outages seen in 2010.

“There had been no additions to the baseload capacity in the region,” the study read.

Mindanao’s baseload generating capacity of 37.31% is a far cry from Luzon’s 63.94% and Visayas’ 71.88%, the study said. It also said that around 1,038 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity in the region are dependent on hydropower from the Agus and Pulangi plants.

“The demand for power in Mindanao has continuously spiked through the years with rapid urbanization and increased industrialization.”

According to the study, consolidated forecasts for Mindanao electricity demand show an annual average demand growth of 4.28% from 2010 to 2019, higher than the national rate of 3.63%.

The study found that Mindanao’s peak demand could reach 1,428 MW in 2013 and 1,823 MW by 2019.

The Department of Energy (DOE) said there should be reserve margin of at least 21% of peak demand. This means that total generation capacity in Mindanao should be 1,728 MW in 2013 and 2,206 MW in 2019.

However, dependable capacity in the region is only 1,616 MW.

“This means that the power system could run a reserve shortfall of 112 MW for this year—a clear sign that last year’s power crisis may happen again. The study says that this gap can only be filled in 2015 when a new coal power plant in Sarangani would already have been built to supply additional 105 MW,” the PIDS study explained.

Navarro urged the DOE to implement short-term solutions for likely peaks in the summers of 2013 and 2014, as well as medium- to long-term solutions for increasing generating capacity and managing demand in Mindanao.

Navarro recommended the rehabilitation of the Agus and Pulangi plants, and adoption of an interruptible load program for large consumers in Mindanao.

She also urged the government to pursue the privatization of the plants, connection of the Visayas and Mindanao grids, and implementation of reforestation and watershed management programs, among others. – Cai Ordinario/Rappler.com