Chiz: Power shortage looms in Mindanao

Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday warned that the power supply of Mindanao could reach critical levels soon if the development of more power plants on the island is not fast-tracked.

“If nothing is done to address the impending shortage, the national economy will take a hit from the expected impact on the region's industrial and commercial activities,” he stressed.

The 39-year-old lawmaker called for the construction of more power plants on the island, noting that the last power plant opened in Mindanao was in 2007 when its first coal-fired plant in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental was inaugurated.

That plant currently supplies 15 percent of the island’s total needs that averages 1,149 megawatts (MW) annually but which is expected to rise starting next year up to 2014.

Other proposed power plants like the 42.5-MW hydropower plant in Sibulan, Davao del Sur and the 27-MW Tamugan hydropower plant in Davao City will still take years before coming on-stream, while a 200-MW coal-fired plant in Maasim, Sarangani is expected to start operations by 2012.

“Government should also try to continue developing alternative power sources to lessen dependence on fossil fuels like oil and to cushion the impact of an expected power shortage.” Escudero said.

In 2007, oil was the main source of fuel for providing power in the Philippines, accounting for 55.9 percent of primary energy demand. It was followed by coal (23.9 percent), gas (12.4 percent) and hydro electric energy (7.8 percent).

The Department of Energy already expects a power shortfall of 174 MW by 2011, while the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry sees a shortage of 400 MW by 2014.

Given the current demand and the projected requirement, actual power reserves in the whole Mindanao grid are expected to decline to 60 MW in 2014 and 16 MW the year after before an actual deficit sets in by 2016.

“Our economic planners forecast growth of about 2.8 percent for 2009 on the premise that last year’s net foreign direct investments will be replicated. But if we can’t ensure a consistent power supply, then investors are unlikely to come here,” Escudero said.

Based on the government’s Power Development Plan, total power demand in the Philippines is projected to more than double to 17,722 MW in 2014 from the current 8,559 MW.

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