Mindanao’s power situation vulnerable

The Energy Department is preparing measures to address the impact of El Niño on Mindanao, including the deployment of modular generating sets.

Hydro-electric plants are expected to bear the brunt of the El Niño among the country’s power generating facilities.

“For Mindanao, the power situation will be a challenge in the event of moderate to severe El Niño phenomenon since the share of the hydropower mix in Mindanao accounts for 50 and 42 percent of the power generation mix in 2014 and January to June 2015, respectively,” Energy Undersecretary Loreta Ayson said during an economic briefing Wednesday.

The power supply situation in Luzon and Visayas, meanwhile, will be manageable based on initial simulations and “in the absence of forced outages in the power plants... ”

The official noted the share of hydro power plants in Luzon and Visayas accounted for just 7.6 percent and 5.2 percent of the power generation mix in 2014 and from January to June 2015, respectively.

The department’s action plan to mitigate the impact of El Niño includes intensified energy efficiency and conservation campaigns, implementation of the interruptible load program, ensuring minimal forced outages of power plants and managing the maintenance schedule, transmission and distribution facilities.

It also calls for the optimization of the dispatch protocol on power plants with hydro stations serving the peaking requirements and the deployment of modular gensets.

The department formed an energy task force on El Niño composed of the Energy Department and major associations such as power generators, private distribution utilities and electric cooperatives.

Energy assistant director Irma Exconde said the task force received support from energy stakeholders, including hydro power generators, to help prepare for El Niño.

“We already sent all the letters to the generators, especially the hydro. The first to second quarters are the  critical period,” she said.

Exconde said the department was also in talks with the National Renewable Energy Board to gather data on the power plants that would come online during the critical period.

She said Mindanao suffered the worst impact of the El Niño phenomenon in 2010 when the region experienced up to 18 hours of brownouts.

The official said the department was hoping to get the cooperation of the Mindanao plants to move their maintenance before or after the critical period next year.

Energy officer-in-charge Zenaida Monsada earlier said while the department was still finalizing new estimates on the effect of El Niño on power supply, Mindanao would likely bear brunt of the impact.

“DoE is finalizing new estimates on effect of El Niño because we still

have rains and some hydro dams are filled up. For Luzon, there might not be too much impact on power supply due to El Niño but the worst [affected] will be Mindanao in the fourth quarter and first quarter 2016, on initial estimates,” Monsada said.

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