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Mindanao power woes worsen

The Mindanao power supply situation took a turn for the worse when two power plant units bogged down in Northern and Southern Mindanao Sunday night.

Reports received Monday by the Manila Bulletin said a unit of the 210-megawatt Steag Coal-Fired Plant in Tagoloan, Misamis Oriental and another unit of Power Barge 118 Unit 2 with 100 mW in Maco, Compostela Valley encountered mechanical trouble and fuel leak, respectively, causing a drop in power supply at 9 p.m. on Sunday.

Affected areas were Matanao-Malita connection and Kinan-Maasim in Southern Mindanao; Tacurong-Cotabato lines in Central Mindanao; Misamis Oriental including Gingoog City in Northern Mindanao; Agusan-Surigao lines in Northeastern Mindanao; and National Irrigation Administration (NIA) lines.

Both the National Power Corporation (Napocor) and National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) said they still do not know when these two units could resume operations.

Sources in Steag in Tagoloan and the Maco plant said round-the-clock repair was still going on.

Meanwhile, officials said the water elevation of Agus plants in Lake Lanao was still in critical level as of Monday due to the El NiƱo weather phenomenon.

It was also gathered that the Pulangi River in Maramag, Bukidnon was also at a critical water level.

This meant that power outages will continue to afflict Mindanao, sources from Napocor, NGCP and electric cooperatives said.

They said the 33 electric cooperatives spread at various cities and provinces in Mindanao will continue to observe rotating brownouts imposed by the Napocor and NGCP.

Almost all cooperatives in the island are now observing five to seven hours of rotating brownouts.

“We have no control about this problem unless water level will go back to normal and all our fossil, diesel and coal-fired plants are fully operational,” said Agusan del Norte Electric Cooperative (Aneco) General Manager Horacio T. Santos and Corporate Manager Engr. Noli Namocatcat, in a meeting with the Manila Bulletin.

The officers and members of Mindanao Electricity Power Alliance, along with Napocor and NGCP officials and other stakeholders, will hold an emergency meeting Tuesday in Cagayan de Oro City to tackle the worsening power problem and craft mitigating measures.

On the other hand, with 36 days more to go before the May 10 national and local elections, the power crisis in the island remains the number one problem that needs to be addressed, political observers said.

In its Monday advisory, the NGCP said Mindanao’s power availability was only 789 mW as of Monday. The total peak capacity for Mindanao Monday was 1,274.

However, last week, Napocor issued two strategic measures to ensure that there will be no disruption of power supply in the island on May 10.

The measures involve the release of water from Lake Lanao, which would be controlled by the engineers and technical men of Napocor to ensure that there would be enough left to turn the hydropower turbines before, during and after the elections.

Napocor will also release 100 million cubic meters of water per second from May 9 to May 11.

Moreover, the 100 million cubic meter release of water will be increased from May 9 to May 18, Napocor said. (MB)

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