DOE Clarifies Power Situation in Visayas and Mindanao

DOE calls on distribution utilities and electric coops to ensure adequacy of contracted power supply in Mindanao

(Taguig City) The Department of Energy (DOE) would like to clarify, that contrary to reports, there is no power shortage in the Visayas. With the recent commercial operations of new coal-fired power plants in the region having a total capacity of 610 MW, power supply remains stable with an available capacity of 1,757 MW, a year-to-date peak demand of 1,375 MW and a reserve power supply of around 380 MW.

The Mindanao grid, meanwhile, has been experiencing frequent red alert notices from National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) which led to actual power curtailments in some parts of the grid. Projected peak demand in the region is at 1,300 MW while available capacity for Mindanao is only at 1,110 MW (excluding the 200 MW from the power barge of Therma Marine, Inc.). The demand does not include the required reserve margin to maintain the integrity of the grid as mandated by the Grid Code which is currently pegged at 250 MW.

The DOE also stresses that the hydropower plants in Mindanao are already running in their optimized available capacity.

“However, considering the future lower rainfall forecast in Mindanao, we cannot rely solely on hydropower plants. Non-hydro baseload is immediately needed and this will only happen if everyone cooperates,” Energy Secretary Jose Rene D. Almendras explains.

Since 2010, the DOE has been warning that Mindanao needs additional baseload generating capacity which is why the agency is calling on private investors to attract more investment in the said region.  Unfortunately, there are problems in securing permits from local government units, thus resulting to delay in projects.  The DOE reiterates that as long as there are no new baseload plants, problems in capacity and shortage will persist.

From the DOE’s assessment, adding up to the current situation in Mindanao is the observed non-compliance of some electric cooperatives to nomination, dispatch and curtailment protocols.  

There are distribution utilities and electric cooperatives that do not contract enough power supply for their actual needs and have thus been overdrawing power, causing problems in grid management.  DOE already instructed NGCP to make the necessary technical upgrades so the distribution system will shift to a mandatory curtailment from voluntary curtailment. This will enable the NGCP to disconnect those distribution firms, electric cooperatives, and other bulk consumers of electricity if they withdraw power beyond what is contracted.

The DOE also notes that there are available generation capacities that are not being utilized because they are not contracted, or when contracted, are not being dispatched. Power barges that can be moved to Mindanao are being offered by the private sector to provide temporary relief but will not be moved unless it is appropriately contracted.

“We cannot blame their hesitation because there is existing generation in Mindanao that are not being contracted,” Secretary Almendras explains.

DOE is already setting up meetings with the Energy Regulatory Commission, Mindanao legislators, and already consulted concerned agencies such as the NGCP, National Power Corporation, the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp., electric cooperatives, and other stakeholders for a Circular that will be issued by the DOE regarding the current Mindanao Power situation providing a short-term solution for Mindanao as it did in 2010.

It can be recalled that the DOE issued a Department Circular in October 2010 directing the rationalization of available generation capacity in Mindanao and directing all concerned agencies to address the power supply situation in the region.

However, the DOE notes that the Circular is just a temporary solution and that the region needs a long term solution.

“Users must contract their required generation to ensure that new generation is put in place,” Secretary Almendras stresses.