“Sus, brownout nasad!” This must’ve been the most uttered phrase at a certain point in time. What with the frequent rotational brownouts that the whole Province is experiencing. Then comes that familiar pang of frustration that we constantly battle day by day until we’ve grown painstakingly accustomed to it.
Power (energy) sets the wheels of development into motion. Its mere existence is critical to the make or break of a nation. We’ve witnessed how Japan struggled after its nuclear power plant broke down when the country was struck by an intensity-9 earthquake. Their industries tremendously suffered and are still recovering up to date.
Earthquake aside, we are no different. Power shortage in our Province has greatly impacted small and large scale businesses alike.
In an effort to gain understanding and search for practical solutions, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, chaired by Vice Governor Hon. Aurora Virginia M. Almonte invited the General Managers of MOELCI 1 & 2 during its regular session last April 10, 2014. The agencies sent representatives on behalf of their General Managers who were attending a separate meeting called for by the Association of Mindanao’s Rural Electric Cooperatives, Inc. in Davao City. Engr. Agustin Arabes (Corp. Plan Section Head-MOELCI 1) and Ms. Helene C. Banua (Finance Div. Chief-MOELCI 2) presented the power situation of their respective districts. MECP Section Head, Mr. Milo M. Bulay-og Jr.; O&M Division Chief, Mr. Guilven Medina and TSD Manager, Mr. Faustino L. Paundog, Jr., all from MOELCI 1 were also present. It was on that occasion that a clear picture was painted and the major setback identified.
Primarily, the problem stems from the generation system, having limited sources to sufficiently supply the actual energy demand. At the moment, MOELCI 1 & 2 has contracted NPC (National Power Corporation) & TMI (Therma Marine Incorporated) as energy suppliers for the entire province. It is important to note that NPC is a hydro power plant which is considered a cheap source of energy. However, its generation capacity is unstable due to external factors. It’s expected to have a seasonal capacity reduction due to low water inflow during summer. Also, it’s considered to be the largest energy source in the country thereby confronted with the challenge of meeting actual contracted demands.
In District 1, the daily contracted demand is at 6.22 MW (Mega Watts) vs. the daily peak demand between 8-10.4 MW. That brings forth a daily deficit of 4.18 MW. On the other hand, District 2 has a huge daily deficit of 11.2 MW having contracted only 8.6 MW vs. its peak demand of 21 MW. This huge deficit is expected since there are more business establishments in District 2, as pointed out by BM Emeterio Roa. Why is this the case? How come supply can’t simply meet demand? A very valid question raised by BM Edilma C. Bulawin. MOELCI explained that they have accurately projected the peak demand and have attempted to obtain this upon their renewal with NPC but unfortunately, NPC denied this and reduced the contracted supply instead. They are also unable to have TMI increase the contracted demand basically because it’s already running the maximum installed capacity and all their generated power has been likewise contracted by other clients.
Given the deficit, MOELCI 1 and 2 has contracted KEGI, a new power plant built in Panaon to exclusively supply the entire province; an additional 3.76 MW for MOELCI 1 & 10 MW for MOELCI 2. It’s scheduled to operate sometime in May or July (the latest) this year. Yet, despite this anticipated power supply, it’s still not enough to augment the Province’s power demand but will somehow reduce the frequency of power outages. Provided that the NPC can supply our contracted demand and no power plant is on maintenance shutdown. All things considered, our overall contracted demand from the power suppliers is still barely sufficient! This is in response to BM Simplicia O. Neri’s inquiry. Thankfully, we aren’t sentenced to this for a lifetime. Sometime in 2016, we will be contracting FDC to supply us with 15 MW daily. It might not be very soon but that’s something we can all look forward to.
Consequently, the new power plant comes with a slightly hefty price tag. As soon as it’s operational, generation charges are estimated to be at 5.60 PHP per kwh (kilo watt hour), a little bit higher than the current rate basically because it’s a diesel-powered plant. However, this will only be operated during peak loads to save costs. On the other hand, due to the said power plant’s close proximity, transmission charges are expected to decrease. A positive note in answer to Atty. Irene Zapatos, Secretary to the Sanggunian’s question.
Another factor is the transmission system which is embodied by the NGCP (National Grid Corporation of the Phils.). They control the power transmission based on the daily power supply. This further explains why we sometimes experience erratic power disruptions without prior notice. NGCP usually notifies MOELCI 20 minutes before a scheduled power outage.
An illustration of power distribution (per hour) was presented. Showing the peak demands to start from 9:00 am-10:00 pm, ranging from 5-9 MW per hour. NGCP has then set a maintained power load of 5 MW per hour during peak hours thus explaining power outages to happen within the aforementioned timeframe.
Coming into terms all these, what else is being done to alleviate the situation? Efforts are being made by MOELCI 2 to acquire additional power supply from MORESCO and BUSECO for a possible resale of power surplus and is currently under negotiation. They’re looking at an extra 4 MW from MORESCO but no exact figure from BUSECO yet.
In addition, a forum was initiated by 2nd District Cong. Henry Oaminal to convey an interim solution to have businessmen use their generator sets and participate in the ILP (Interruptible Load Program). In relation to this, Vice-Governor Hon. Aurora Virginia M. Almonte inquired if MOELCI ever considered availing of the said Program being supported by DOE; granting loans with an interest rate as low as 6% per annum to Cooperatives intending to purchase generator sets. MOELCI 1 then explained that prior to this Program, they have already taken preliminary actions into engaging business with KEGI therefore they opted not to avail of it anymore to prevent unwarranted financial impact.
BM Gerard Teodorico Olegario also shared one of his constituents question as to why there’s no power barge being set-up in Ozamiz to possibly assuage the power situation? MOELCI countered that NPC’s power barge to be sold off is in Luzon and it would be very costly to have it transported here in our Province.
Besides the aforementioned issues, MOELCI representatives also catered to the inquiries raised by our Honorable Board Members coming from their constituents.
The possible surcharge of 3% for late payments on electric bills was brought up by BM Zaldy G. Daminar and MOELCI 1 validated that this is still pending approval from the ERC (Energy Regulatory Board) thus they’ve discontinued imposing the late fees. Consumers who were charged late fees last January are expected to get a refund.
Additionally, MOELCI 2 declared that they will also issue refunds for the excess Provisional Authority Rate they billed their consumers effective February in a period of six (6) months in response to BM Lovely Liezl B. Yape’s query.
It is comforting to know that something is being done to address the power situation in our Province. Until then, we have to persevere and do our share in conserving energy; and what better way than to start at the confines of our own homes? After all, this should be a joint effort.