Energy department bares El Niño action plan for Mindanao

The Department of Energy (DOE) on Wednesday released an action plan to mitigate the impact of  El Niño in Mindanao.

Among the plans drawn up include an intensified energy efficiency and conservation campaigns; implementation of the Interruptible Load Program; ensuring minimal forced outages of power plants; managing the maintenance schedules of power plants, transmission and distribution facilities; optimization of the dispatch protocol for power plants with hydropower plants serving as peaking requirement; and deployment of modular generator sets.

The agency, according to Energy Undersecretary Loreta Ayson, has also created “Energy Task Force on El Niño” to address the power-supply situation in Mindanao, which is largely dependent on hydroelectric power plants.

The members of the task force include the DOE, National Power Corp., Energy Regulatory Commission, power generators, private distribution utilities and electric cooperatives.

“For Mindanao, the power situation will be a challenge in the event of moderate to severe El Niño since the share of the hydropower plants in Mindanao is accounted for 50 percent and 42 percent in the power- generation mix in 2014 and January to June 2015, respectively,” Ayson said.

Moreover, the DOE has coordinated with the National Renewable Energy Board (NREB) to verify the capacity used for Variable Renewable Energy (VRE) sources such as solar, wind and biomass from October 2015 to June 2016.

For hydroelectric power plants, the DOE requested operators of hydropower plants to provide a weekly average available capacity for the same period with the VRE plants, since hydro plants will be the most affected by the impact of the El Niño.

The DOE will continue to provide an updated simulation of the power outlook with El Niño scenario once it has gathered the data and finalized the simulation, Ayson added.

Based on the initial simulation of the DOE, “in the absence of any increase in forced outages in the power plants for Luzon and the Visayas, the power situation will be manageable.”

For Mindanao, however, the worst could be felt toward the end of 2015 up until the first quarter of 2016.

Earlier, DOE Officer in Charge Zenaida Monsada said the agency estimates a 13,300-megawatt (MW) power supply to be available in 2016. Demand, meanwhile, is estimated to reach 12,000 MW, she said.

“The committed capacities, if they come in on time, could meet up to the contingency reserve requirement of the country by 2016,” Monsada said.

Broken down by major island groups, the DOE estimates the power supply in Luzon to reach 9,800 MW in 2016, while that for the Visayas is 1,800 MW. Mindanao is expected to have a supply of 1,700 MW for next year, as against an anticipated demand of 1,500 MW.

The DOE also expects Mindanao to finally be able to produce its own electricity in 2016 as more power plants are expected to come on-stream beginning late 2015.





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