Milfrance Q. Capulong, National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) corporate communications officer for Mindanao, said the plan is to moor the two power barges, each with 100 megawatts (MW), in the cities of Cagayan de Oro in the province of Misamis Oriental and General Santos in the province of South Cotabato so they can serve areas that need more power supply.
The General Santos City and the rest of the Sarangani-South Cotabato-Sultan Kudarat area is on the end of the transmission system thus is the last to get whatever power is left in the power grid, Ms. Capulong explained.
Cagayan de Oro City, on the other hand, is near where the Steag coal-fired power complex is located and where demand for power has been increasing significantly.
Ms. Capulong said it was the Department of Energy (DoE), which recommended the transfer of the power barges.
Officials of the Energy department and the National Power Corp. (Napocor) could not be contacted immediately by phone to provide details of the said transfer.
Ms. Capulong, however, did not mention how the operation of the two power barges would impact on the power bills considering that these barges are run by bunker fuel and produce electricity at a higher cost compared to the power being produced by diesel plants.
Steag, which has two plants with combined capacity of 210 MW, had a scheduled maintenance last weekend, with its other plant scheduled to be turned off before the end of the month.
Last week, Therma Marine, Inc., a power barge operator under the Aboitiz Group. said it has prepared its two power barges, with combined capacity of close to 200 MW, for extended operations to utility firms, mostly electric cooperatives in Mindanao, it has contracts with.
The power barges are to be operated on “extended hours in order to provide additional power supply to electric cooperatives, distribution utilities and industrial customers,” Therma Marine Chief Operating Officer Jovy P. Batiquin earlier said.
Even before the shutdown of the Steag power plants, Therma Marine’s power barges have been running on average of 10 hours because some of the Napocor’s plants had encountered technical problems that reduced their outputs.
Based on NGCP’s Web site, Mindanao’s power deficiency as of yesterday’s outlook was 263 MW, roughly 20% of island’s total power demand.
The two power barges that Aboitiz Power Corp. bought from government in 2009 are expected to operate in maximum capacity, or at 192 MW with the shutdown of the two coal-fired power plants of Steag State Power, Inc.
The barges have become the run-to power supplier after Mindanao has been beset by lower power output in previous years due to the deterioration of the old hydroelectric power plants run by Napocor.
The power shortfall in Mindanao is being blamed to the outage of Power Barge (PB) 104, a 10-MW barge of Napocor moored in Davao City, as well as the reduced capability of Pulangi Hydroelectric Power Plant to 150 MW due to the low water level of the Pulangi River in Bukidnon.
The shutdown of the 40-MW Agus 6 Hydroelectric plant in Iligan City, Lanao del Norte also exacerbated the power situation in Mindanao.
Davao City’s power utility earlier assured its customers that outages in its franchise areas are unlikely. “In spite of the possible increase in power curtailment in Mindanao as a consequence, Davao Light (and Power Co.) will do its best to avoid implementing rotational power interruptions,” said Rossano C. Luga, spokesperson of the company in an e-mail.
Mr. Luga said the power distributor would be able to cushion the impact on the power shortage with the “optimization of its embedded power plants.”
These power plants include its own 40-MW standby diesel plant and the hydroelectric power plants of its sister company, Hedcor, Inc., in Sibulan, Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur.
He added that the distributor, also a subsidiary of the Aboitiz Group, was also among those that have bought power from Therma Marine.
“All these are aimed at ensuring the economic activity and welfare of the people in our franchise area will be least affected by the power crisis,” said Mr. Luga. — Carmelito Q. Francisco