PNoy: Pay or live with brownouts

Karlos Manlupig
President Aquino said Mindanao residents have to spend a little bit more to address the power problem in the region

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Pay a little more or live with rotating brownouts.

President Benigno Aquino III presented these two options to sectors gathered at the Mindanao Power Summit on Friday, April 13.

Aquino said that Mindanao needs more generating capacity. “What we need you to realize is that the old days of cheap power are no longer sustainable, and you must also put in your fair share in solving this problem. You have to pay more for the current and future health of the energy sector in Mindanao. Ambag ambag tayo dito,” Mr Aquino explained.

The President said that the current energy production capacity in Mindanao is at 1,280 megawatts, while the present peak demand in the region is 1,300 megawatts.

Aquino added that the energy sector should also meet the reserve margin of 150 megawatts, which means that Mindanao needs 170 megawatts more to have a stable power supply.

In the short-term, the President said that the repair of Pulangi 4 will provide an additional 100 megawatts and there is another 74 megawatts that may be generated from embedded generation units.

“I ask you to run those units. And what the cooperatives here have to do is contract these embedded generation units and apportion the 74 megawatts equitably among themselves. We can reach our target of 1,450 megawatts and end up with an excess of 4 megawatts. We are fixing the problem now by maximizing capacity. But this is not the end of the solution,” Aquino said.

 “We have to get more plants here. It costs two million dollars per megawatt on average to construct a coal or natural gas power plant. It costs double that for hydro. So for hydro, for example, that’s almost 170 million pesos per megawatt. How can you entice anyone to invest if their generating cost is more than their selling cost?,” Aquino said.

Various groups have been claiming that Mindanao residents will experience power rate increases of up to P14 per kilowatt-hour.

The President denied this, but added that there are electric cooperatives in Mindanao that are already paying an additional 50 to 60 centavos per kilowatt-hour.

“But we are also making sure that these price increases are fair. Paying a little more for energy will enable us to ensure a stable supply of power for the future of the region. It will make lives of everyone in Mindanao better not just by allowing them to switch on light bulbs but also because having a more consistent energy source will give Mindanao a more convincing business proposition to potential investors,” Aquino said. –


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