Cebu power supply stabilizes

02/19/2010 - The Department of Energy (DoE) in Region 7 said the power supply situation in Cebu may be back to normal next week with the full operation of Unit I of the Cebu Energy Development Corp. (CEDC) coal-fired power plant in Toledo City, which has a power generation capacity of 82 megawatts (MW).
DoE 7 Director Antonio Labios said the CEDC informed him that power supply in Cebu has started to stabilize as it is now supplying, on test basis, 20 MW to the Cebu-Negros-Panay (CNP) grid. It hopes to increase power supply to 80 MW by February 21, he said.
As this developed, Rep. Danilo Suarez (Lakas-Kampi-CMD, Quezon), chairman of the oversight panel in the House of Representatives, warned that prices of electricity will be manipulated in the electric power market as a result of the precarious energy situation in various parts of the country, especially in the Visayas and Mindanao.
Appearing in a Quezon City news forum, Suarez said he is not convinced that there should be a power crisis since problematic hydro-electric plants contribute only about 16 percent of the electricity requirements in the country.
Aside from this, Suarez said government’s renewable energy program has been successful even as it is set to “re-commission” the power barges to guarantee ample electricity even after the May 10 elections.
“Technically, wala talaga tayong power shortage. Ang akin lang pinangangambahan because power is a commodity that is being traded everyday, baka ito ay i-manipulate ng mga power players sa industry at pagsamantalahan ang publiko,” Suarez said. (“Technically, we are not experiencing power shortage. My only fear is that because power is a commodity that is being traded everyday, power players might manipulate the industry and take advantage of the public.”)
Suarez said a shortage in electricity can be used as reason to justify price hikes.
“I think they are making use of the much publicized issue that our hydro resources will have serious problems because of the El Nino,” he told reporters during the Usaping Balita News Forum in Quezon City.
In Cebu, Ethel Natera, corporate communications manager of the Visayan Electric Co. (Veco), has reported a power shortage of 170 MW during the morning peak and 190 MW for the afternoon peak due to limited generation.
Veco was requested by the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) to interrupt 78.9 MW and 89 MW of power in the morning and afternoon peaks, respectively.
At past 4 p.m., Natera informed the media that the manual load drop for the night peak was 200 MW. Veco was asked to manually drop a maximum of 93.8 MW.
This caused sporadic brownouts in several areas in Metro Cebu.
Labios also said DoE has no more jurisdiction over the two gas turbines in the City of Naga, Cebu, which have a power generation capacity of 50 MW because SPC Power Corp. bought these from the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM) last January 29.
Labios said he was told that SPC Power is not using the two turbines because of their high operational cost.
He said PSALM manages the properties of the NPC, including the gas turbines in Naga, which were privatized last January 29.
“The problem of SPC Power is that they have no captive customer to buy the power if ever they will generate from these gas turbines. So, if they will operate, they will suffer business losses,” Labios said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Presidential Spokeswoman Charito Planas said any declaration of state of emergency will only be a last resort of the Arroyo administration in dealing with the dwindling power supply in Mindanao.
Planas said the government is determined to exert all efforts to stabilize supply of electricity in the south before making any drastic solution to the problem.
Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino Rep. Rufus Rodriguez earlier called on Congress to give President Arroyo emergency powers to resolve the El NiƱo-triggered energy crisis in Mindanao.
Rodriguez complained that the government still has no concrete action to address the rotating daily brownouts in Mindanao.
“That should be a last resort,” Planas said of the state of emergency proposed by some lawmakers to deal with the debilitating power crisis in Mindanao.
“Let the President decide on the matter, to decide whether she will call a special session to grant her emergency powers,” she added.
Although the proposal was “good,” Planas said the President would not rush into calling on Congress to convene a special session to given her powers to declare a state of emergency.
She said the President would have study the proposal, particularly weigh its pros and cons, before making any decision.
“The President will not easily say yes to such proposal. She has to study if the proposed emergency powers are needed at this time,” she added.
United Opposition vice presidential candidate Jejomar Binay is also against proposals to clothe President Arroyo with emergency powers so she could solve Mindanao's power crisis, saying existing laws already arm her with enough powers to address the crisis.
“If powers to be granted to her will allow here to create enough rain to fill Mindanao’s hydroelectric dams, then I am for it,” Binay said. “If it will serve as an amulet that will give her superpowers to drive away El Nino, then let her have it. (Manila Bulletin)

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