April 17, 2015

Oro Power Utility Assures 'No More Brownout'

BEGINNING today, Cagayan de Oro Electric Power and Light Co. (Cepalco) lifts the rotational brownout it enforced in the city since April 10 after the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM), formerly the National Power Corporation (NPC), has added another 30 megawatt to Cepalco’s daily requirement to run the city’s power needs.
Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM)
Last week, Cepalco was only receiving about 60MW-70MW compelling the power utility to resort to load shedding since its own power sources were insufficient to supply the 150MW to power its franchise area.

Marilyn Chavez, Cepalco’s senior manager for Customer and Community Relations, told Sun Star Cagayan de Oro by phone Wednesday that PSALM could now provide 100MW to Cepalco. “Finally, Cepalco has ironed this out and we assure our customers that there’ll be no more power curtailment beginning tomorrow (Thursday) even if the load that PSALM provides is still short of 50MW. Cepalco’s Minergy, independent power producer, the Cabulig hydro and solar power will be sufficient to provide the city’s power demand,” Chavez said.

The neighboring Iligan City and Lanao del Norte haven’t experienced power curtailment which left Cagayan de Oro residents and the business sector wondering why there was insufficient power supply here lately.

Last year, the city experienced only minimal rotational brownout despite the Mindanao power curtailment after the Steag’s coal-fired power plant generators conked out. Steag supplies 210MW to the Mindanao grid.

Hydro Sources Drying Up

Pulangi River in Bukidnon and Lake Lanao, major sources of hydropower electricity in Mindanao, is rapidly drying up worsening the power situation in some cities of Mindanao already reeling with daily rotational brownouts.

Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) director Romeo Montenegro said the water level in Pulangi River in Bukidnon went down to 280.85 meters above sea level, way below the baseline limit of 286 meters as of Tuesday.

As a result, Montenegro said the hydro plant in Pulangi is now capable of producing only 30MW of electricity out of its 250MW rated capacity.

“It (Pulangi hydro plant) is not out, but it is producing only 30MW because there is no more water except silt,” Montenegro said in a text message.

Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR)
Cagayan de Oro reeled under a daily eight-hour rotational brownout in its franchise area in Cagayan de Oro and the towns of Jasaan and Villanueva in Misamis Oriental that began Tuesday.

Pagadian City and nearby province of Zamboanga de Sibugay are also under severe power curtailment, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines said Wednesday.

To make matters worse for Cagayan de Oro and Pagadian cities, the newly completed 150-megawatts Boiler Unit 2 of Therma South Inc. (TSI), a power plant owned by the Aboitiz Power in Davao City, failed to go on line when it sustained damages during the Mindanao-wide blackout last Easter Sunday, April 5.

Prior to that, Cepalco secured a 20-megawatt supply from TSI supposedly to alleviate the critical power situation in Cagayan de Oro.

The same thing happened to Lake Lanao where, Montenegro said, the prolonged dry spell of weak “ El Nino” has reduced the electricity output of the six cascading hydro plants along the Agus River.

“All Agus plants are running but some units are derated or having reduced output,” he said.

Montenegro said water level in Lake Lanao had plunged to 699. 82 meters above sea level.

He said the maximum water level for Agus hydro plants to operate safely without damaging its machineries is 702 meters above sea level.

“Cepalco’s current load portfolio cannot cover high demand because of the summer heat,” Montenegro said.

Pulangi and Agus River in Lanao provinces supplies more than 52 percent of the electricity in Mindanao

Cepalco vice president Ralph Paguio said even with their standby power plants and the Independent Load Producers (ILP), they do not have enough electricity to cover their entire franchise area.

“This force us to resort to power curtailment to equitably share whatever supply there is,” Paguio said.

He said they offset the shortfall with from Cepalco’s coal plant, Minergy which produces 42 megawatts of electricity and participating ILP firms in Cagayan de Oro.

Paguio said still there is a shortfall of electricity they could not meet.

Aboitiz communications officer Wilfredo Alfredo III said the electricity supply from Therma South could have eased the situation in Cagayan de Oro.

“The brownouts could have been cut to only two hours not eight hours,” Wilfredo said.

In a statement, Aboitiz Power said the sudden loss in last Easter Sunday’s Mindanao-wide blackout caused the damage at the TSI Unit 2 boiler which was scheduled to go on line this month.

TSI president Benjie Cariaso said repairs can run up to ten months but he added that their Unit 1 coal plant is still scheduled to operate in June 2015.

Cariaso said repairs to the Boiler Unit 2’s air-preheater as well as the electrostatic precipitator can run up to 10 months delaying its commissioning.

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