GENERAL SANTOS CITY -- A two-hour daily rotating brownout will again hit this city, the provinces of Sarangani and South Cotabato or the Soccsksargen region, as the power supply deficiency reached 20 megawatts, an official said Wednesday.
Crisanto Sotelo, South Cotabato Electric Cooperative II (Socoteco-II) technical services department chief, said they are forced to implement a new round of power interruption due to the worsening supply deficiency.
Socoteco-II, in an advisory, informed consumers that the rotating daily power outages will be implemented starting April 16 to 29.
"This could be a recurring situation if no clear-cut long-term solution will be achieved," he said in a phone interview.
The announcement of the looming interruption came two days ahead of the scheduled Mindanao power summit that will be held in Davao City on Friday, with President Benigno Aquino III expected to attend the activity.
The cooperative, which serves this city, the whole of Sarangani and parts of South Cotabato, first implemented a load shedding last February 22 to March 4 but only for an hour.
To augment the power supply in the city, Sotelo said Socoteco-II has sought another seven megawatts from Therma Marine Inc., a subsidiary of Aboitiz Power Corp.
But the power supply deal has yet to be approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), he added.
To date, Socoteco-II has acquired 23 megawatts from Therma Marine to augment the dwindling power supplied to the cooperative.
Should the ERC approve the new deal, Therma Marine would be supplying 30 megawatts to the distribution facility.
Socoteco-II used to get 110 megawatts from National Power Corporation but the allocation has now reduced to nearly 55 megawatts, Sotelo said.
He noted that peak demand for electricity in the service area of Socoteco-II was pegged at 104 megawatt for April.
Alfredo P. Hebrona Jr., Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry governor for Southwestern Mindanao, said power interruptions have become a great concern for the business sector, especially those in the tuna industry.
He cited the outages' impact to the cold storage facilities of the tuna firms, noting that it increases their operational costs since they have to use generators to keep the quality of frozen products.
He said the lack of power supply is a setback to efforts by the public and private sectors to attract new investments in the area.
"Definitely, we'll raise this issue in the upcoming Mindanao power summit [on Friday]," Hebrona said.
He said they also want to clarify the contrasting views of the Mindanao Development Authority and the power producers.
Mindanao Development Authority earlier claimed that there is an unutilized power supply on the island, while the power producers said there is a generation deficiency.
"Who's telling the truth?" Hebrona asked.
In a related development, Kidapawan City Vice Mayor Joseph Evangelista chided Wednesday the Department of Energy’s (DOE) statement that the North Cotabato province in Central Mindanao is among the areas that only experience one to two hours of rotating brownouts daily.
Evangelista said they experience daily brownouts from three to four hours, or worst, five to six hours.
“Where do they get the data? Who supplied the DOE the data? We, people of North Cotabato, could very well attest that the DOE's statement is not true,” Evangelista said.
Evangelista and other local officials from North Cotabato met with some DOE officials in Metro Manila last week where they discussed the power situation in Mindanao.
Evangelista also handed to the DOE their resolution urging the National Government to put an end to the power crisis in Mindanao.
Agham party-list Representative Angelo Palmones last month also issued his disagreements to the pronouncements made by the DOE and other government officials, including President Aquino's spokesman Edwin Lacierda, with regard the rotating blackouts in North Cotabato.
"I hope Lacierda and other officials from Malacañang stay in Kidapawan City for, say, two to three days, so they could also experience what we're going through because of the rotating blackouts every day," Palmones said.
Evangelista said residents of Kidapawan City and other areas in Mindanao would brace for a long rotating blackouts starting April 17 when the Pulangi-IV hydroelectric power plant in Bukidnon province undergoes a month-long preventive maintenance.
The Pulangi-IV supplies 180 megawatts for Mindanao grid.
"When it shuts off power on April 17, at least 180 megawatts would be added to the more than 300 megawatts of power deficiency. Thus, we will again expect more hours of blackouts every day. And that really hurts everyone, the business here, in particular," Evangelista said.
Members of the Metro Kidapawan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. said because of the unstable supply of power, many of the small and medium traders in the province have also temporarily shut off their business, especially those that rely much on electricity. (With Malu Cadeliña Manar of Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)