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Mindanao power cooperatives seek to defer repair of 2 Steag coal plants

DAVAO CITY—The Association of Mindanao Rural Electric Cooperatives (Amreco)is asking the Department of Energy (DOE) to defer the simultaneous repair this month of the two units of the coal plant in Misamis Oriental operated by the Steag State Power Inc., which could send the entire island into another episode of long hours of brownouts.

Sergio Dagooc Sr., president of the Amreco, told the BusinessMirror on Friday that the association has yet to assess the impact on the franchise areas of member-cooperatives on the repair on the two units at the Steag plant in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental.

He said the Amreco would ask the Mindanao Development Authority to include in the agenda of the meeting next week of the Mindanao Power Monitoring Committee its petition to Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla to defer the total shutdown of the Steag coal-fired power plant “until the time that the Therma South Inc. coal plant would start streaming its first batch of load to the Mindanao grid.”

He said the scheduled loading of the Aboitiz-owned coal plant in Davao City would be anytime soon.

“We would ask the secretary to consider the scheduled shutdown of Steag for repair,” he said.

He said the Dinagat Island off Surigao del Norte has not been adversely affected yet, but areas with no power-supply contracts with private and independent producers, such as Surigao del Norte, have been reeling with rotational brownouts for several years already.

For the franchise of the Aboitiz-owned Davao Light and Power Co., it already announced early this week that the curtailment on power would be huge due to the combined 200 megawatts (MW) of the repaired units.

If the impact on the Davao Light franchise would be any indication, then the impact of the loss of the 200 MW would have more telling effect in the rest of Mindanao. It is because the Davao Light franchise would be considered more fortunate due to the available alternate sources of electricity that has shielded the cities of Davao and Panabo of Davao del Norte, the towns of Santo Tomas and Braullio Dujali, from brownouts.

This week Rossano Luga, chief of Davao Light’s Reputation Enhancement Department, said the rotational brownout would start on Saturday, when the Steag coal-fired power plant would repair both turbine units.

He said the period covering February 21 up to March 2 would be crucial when the two units would be out of the grid, although the repair on one unit was started on Februay 16 and the entire repair duration would last until March 16.

Mindanao was expected to experience stable power beginning this year as the coal plant here would begin supplying power to the grid. It has a capacity of 300 MW. Two other coal plants would be streamed to the grid within the next two years. These are the 200-MW plant in Sarangani province operated by the Alson’s Conal Holdings, and the 300-MW plant in Davao del Sur.




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