200-MW Shortfall Seen In Mindanao

The starvation of the province, Mindanao from electricity is in danger, suffering from another 200-megawatt (MW) shortfall for the succeeding years due to high demand and continues lacking of generation capacity.

It is said that the Department of Energy (DOE) is already banking on power charges and diesel-fired power plants to upsurge the available power in the region next year.

Energy Secretary, Jose Rene Almendras, mentioned that, “If we do not have additional generation in Mindanao by the dry season next year, we will have a shortage.”

“I am looking at least 100 MW, almost 200 MW. It also depends on the rainfall next year,” Almendras added.

Up to the present time, the hydroelectric power plant is responsible for 53 percent of the total power supply in Mindanao.

The Mindanao network, according to the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, which is in need of at least an average of 1,300 megawatt (MW) during peak hours, lacked 50 MW to 300 MW, resulting in two to four hours of rotating blackouts in the first quarter.

“In Mindanao, the situation has significantly improved. What is being reported to us is that there are no more blackouts,” Almendras said.

As an update, last week, there was still no power outage in Mindanao which follows the completed repair of the 200 megawatt (MW) Pulangi IV hydropower plant in Bukidnon.

The DOE released a circular outlining effort last March needed from numerous government agencies and private firms to lessen power outages in Mindanao.

But, Almendras said that Mindanao is running on bare requirements and is without any emergency reserves. A failure in any of the power generation equipment will thus automatically result in a shortfall and blackouts.

Almendras said that the situation might worsen next year when demands increases and there is insufficient rainfall for the hydropower plants.

The DOE recommends that the resumption of operations and rehabilitation of the 100 megawatt (MW) Iligan diesel power plant and the rehabilitation and transfer of 120 megawatt (MW) of privately owned power barges, and the transfer to Mindanao of the 96 megawatt (MW) of power barges presently operated by National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR), in order to solve the power supply concerns.

The DOE is in talks with private firms for the transfer of several power barges, Almendras said.

The Commission on Audit (COA) review is ongoing regarding the Iligan plant issue.

“The COA has requested for some additional documents from the local government unit and from the bidder to substantiate their offer, their process and pricing,” Almendras said

The 100-MW plant, which was last operated in 2010, was sold to Alsons Consolidated Resources Inc. (ACR) subsidiary Conal Holdings Corporation after the local government acquired it due to tax delinquency.

However, the power plant also needs COA clearance before it can be sold to ACR and resume operations.

Almendras said that the DOE wants the plant to start operations within the year for it to reach the maximum capacity ahead of the dry season next year.

Lastly, DOE is reviewing its plans following the failed bidding of four 32-MW power barges of Napocor.

The bidding of the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management for the diesel-fired Power Barges 101-104 failed last week as only one of seven qualified bidders submitted an offer.

Under the bidding rules, winning firms should immediately transfer these power facilities to Mindanao and would have to stay there until 2014.

The DOE has been giving some warnings last 2010 with regards to Mindanao that it needs additional baseload generating capacity through private investor participation.

But the DOE said there were delays in securing permits from local government units.

For instance, Aboitiz Power Corporation, Sarangani Energy Corporation, and San Miguel Corporation are planning to put up coal-fired power plants in Mindanao but host communities opposed these plans due to environmental concerns.

Power rates set to soar

MANILA, Philippines – Power rates are expected to soar as the impact of averting blackouts and the rate adjustment mechanisms of the National Power Corp. (Napocor) are reflected in electric bills, the government said yesterday.

Francis Saturnino Juan, Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) executive director, said the impact of running the diesel-fired power plants at the height of the blackouts will be reflected in electric bills next month.

This developed as the Commission on Audit (COA) said Manila Electric Co. (Meralco)’s unbundled rate petition showed a number of items amounting to about P7.2 billion should have been excluded from the computation.

Based on the result of the COA audit, the items that should have been excluded were certain pieces of property and equipment amounting to P3.7 billion and P3.5 billion for calendar years 2004 and 2007, respectively.

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Auditors find Makati fund irregularities

A Commission on Audit report on Makati City’s finances has indicated serious fund irregularities committed by city officials, including the grant of P200 million in cash advances as a means of evading regular public biddings for various city projects.

The CoA report assailed the administration of Mayor Jejomar Binay for failing to justify the cash advances as it pointed out irregularities committed in the disbursement of the funds.

An outspoken critic of graft and corruption allegedly instigated by Malacañang, Binay was asked to stop the practice of granting cash advances for purchases that ordinarily should pass “public biddings or other modes of procurement” as provided under the law.

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COA, Comelec, CHR to get smaller budgets

MANILA, Philippines—Three independent agencies in the bureaucracy will have a smaller share in the 2009 national budget after the Senate slashed their appropriations.

The biggest casualty is the Commission on Audit (COA), whose budget was reduced by P100 million. The appropriation for the Commission on Elections (Comelec) was reduced by P39.8 million, while that of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) was cut by P1 million.

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Trillanes spends P.5 M on travel

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV is detained at Camp Crame’s Custodial Center in Quezon City, but he spent P500,000 for travel expenses in the six months since his election in May 2007, Commission on Audit (COA) figures show.

The officially published Itemized List of Expenses of each senator showed Trillanes collected his local travel allowance of P117,810, plus a total of P418,326 in travel allowance for his staff.

It has not been established if Trillanes had personally used the two amounts for travel expenses.

Records obtained by The STAR showed Trillanes spent some P3,628,938.50 for “salaries and benefits” of his staff.

Under the bracket for “meetings and conferences,” Trillanes incurred P103,021 and P215,000 for “extraordinary and miscellaneous expenses.”

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