MARINDUQUE POWER SITUATION
SaysEnergyAustralia: ''a brownout occurs when the voltage is at half strength for more than one second'' resulting in dim lights and a shrinking picture on your TV. Dennis S. Gana, manager of corporate communications at National Power Corporation (Philippines) explains that the two terms are used interchangeably in the country.
''The term ‘brownout' is used only when the power outage is localised, involving small areas. The outages during brownouts involve only distribution lines, not generators. Blackouts are usually caused by power generators and/or power transmission systems, and they cover a wider area..” (rdasia.com, April 2009
Most people, probably, could hardly care about those terms and definitions. For as long as power outages prevent him or her from watching the tear-jerking soap opera in the evening, interrupts the barangay fiesta dance, keeps the body soaking wet without a running fan, continuously disrupts business and Internet connection. The ‘why’ of it all is more difficult to comprehend.
Is the Marinduque Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Marelco), still in good financial position to effectively address the current situation, I wonder? Recently, it pointed fingers to typhoon “Reming” (Nov. 2006), that caused a heavy toll on electrical installations; where an amount of P 42-million that should have been turned over or paid to Napocor was utilized, unilaterally it appears, for the necessary rehabilitation work that preceded the local and national elections. Then there’s this situation where the independent power service provider involved is no longer in a position to augment the necessary power supply needed for the entire province.
What is really going on?
Item: “Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes is asking Congress for some P3 billion to finance a power contingency plan to ward off a nationwide power crisis next year....Reyes said the Visayas grid has been experiencing rotating brownouts since 2008 due to very tight power generation capacity in Cebu and Panay. Mindanao is also vulnerable and is now encountering power supply problems, he added...Reyes said the Luzon grid might also encounter power supply imbalance starting next year. (Philippine Star, Sep, 18, 2009)
So, who else is having problems if we're not the only ones?
Item: “Reports are coming in that the town of San Jose has been without electricity since Thursday last week, August 13, 2009, and that it may take 4-5 more days before power is restored. Sources reveal Occidental Mindoro Electric Cooperative, Inc. (OMECO) has been experiencing mechanical difficulties as a result of a dredging operation being performed in close proximity to their power barge...” (Aug. 17, 2009)
Item: “The power outages experienced by the service area of the Albay Electric Cooperative (Aleco) have been making it hard for volcanologists monitoring Mayon Volcano’s abnormal activities to promptly send information to government agencies and the pubic..” (Inquirer.net Sept. 16, 2009)
Item: “The island of Negros is in dire need of a stable power supply says Department of Energy (DOE) Visayas Field Office Supervisor Engr. Rey Maleza. Maleza said what is being applied in Negros and Panay in terms of addressing the current power shortage is only a band aid solution. There is a need for private power investors, he said. Maleza said Negros Island becomes isolated now because of the lack of reserve power...Maleza also explained that the critical period for the power situation in the Negros-Panay grid started during summer this year where brownouts and power interruptions are experienced even up to now.” (The NewsToday Info, Aug. 28, 2008)
Item: “According to Energy Sec. Reyes, the country is on the brink of a power shortage last seen during the Aquino administration. Intermittent power outages have started in the Visayas and by next year electricity demand will outstrip supply in Mindanao, and by 2010, the critical point will be reached in Luzon”. (eccp.com, Jan. 2008)
Well that appears to be a validation that we are not alone, but a part of the whole, indeed. “Need for private power investors”, did the above report from Negros island say that?
Item: “... the windmills has become a solution to the frequent power outage experienced in Ilocos Norte since the province is located at the end of the power grid coming from Bauang, La Union -a province several miles away from Ilocos Norte... Officially known as the NorthWind Bangui Bay Project, it is the first Wind Farm in the Philippines.” (traveleronfoot.wordpress.com, June 10, 2009).
What’s being done then about the Marinduque power situation?
Napocor, in a letter dated Sept. 4, 2009, to Marelco General Manager Eduardo Bueno, has inquired about the status of the privatization of power generation in Marinduque, and the level of energy that will be nominated to Napocor for 1910. Napocor’s concern is “the long delayed entry of your NPP” (New Power Provider). As Napocor units “are aging and the capabilities are diminishing” we may experience more brownouts unless Marelco and a new power provider are able to replace Napocor’s units.
(Photo: The power barge at Balanacan: aging, capability diminishing)
So, it’s privatization of power generation being pursued pala.
In his last State of the Province Address, Gov. Bong Carrion said, thus,:
“The existing contract between Napocor and Marelco where we are at the mercy of Napocor is no longer tenable. I have requested Gen. Sarmiento to sit down with Sec. Angelo Reyes and find available means to address this situation, as two foreign companies and one local company have already expressed willingness to invest in Marinduque using renewable energy sources” (SOPA, Aug. 14, 2009)
Got hold of Napocor’s letter to Marelco. It reads as follows:
National Power Corporation
Quezon Ave. cor BIR Road, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines
04 September 2009
Mr. Eduardo Q. Bueno
Marinduque Electric Cooperative, Inc.
Ihatub, Boac, Marinduque
Subject: Privatization of Power Generation
Dear GM Bueno:
The NPC-SPUG, in its preparation of the 2010 Budget Proposals, would like to know the status of the privatization of power generation in your area, and the level of energy that will be nominated to NPC for the period.
As you had opted to have your own New Power Provider during the 2004 consultation with the Department of Energy, in the promulgation of its Circular No. 2004-01-001, NPC-SPUG’s function has been limited to the maintenance of its existing capacity. NPC’s budget does not allow any provision for increase capacity, since any additional requirements shall have to be provided by your NPP.
Our present concern is the long delayed entry of your NPP. NPC’s units are aging and the capabilities are diminishing; without the expected augmentation from your NPP, and with your load continuously increasing, we may have deficit in capacity unless the cooperative and its NPP setup appropriate capacities to replace NPC’s units.
Hence, we would like to urge the cooperative to fast track their undertakings with their New Power Provider and more decisively in its privatization endeavor.
The Privatization of power generation does not end our mutual concerns on providing electricity service, it even calls for more cooperation as we have to guide and assist the new entrants to ensure a sufficient power service.
We hope to hear from you soon, as we had apprised you of our concern.
Very truly yours,
Melburgo S. Chiu
(More time now then, on the beach, under the soothing shade of coconut trees)