Mindanao in darkness again

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DAVAO CITY—Several places in Mindanao have been advised to brace themselves for another dark weekend, as two coal plants on the island were expected to go off the Mindanao grid.

In the case of the franchise areas here and three towns of Davao del Norte, the Davao Light and Power Co. announced it would impose two-hour brownouts to be applied on rotation over the weekend.

The company said it received information from the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) that the Steag State Power Inc. would subject one of its turbine units on a two-day maintenance shutdown on March 5 and 6.

The Steag coal plant in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental, operates two units, one of which churns out 110 megawatts.

The announcement came two days after NGCP also told Davao Light that the Aboitiz-owned coal plant in Toril, west of this city, suddenly went offline on Wednesday. 

The coal plant here is operated by the Aboitiz affiliate Therma South Inc.

Wednesday’s shutdown forced Davao Light to impose three to four hours of brownout.

The unscheduled shutdown was the third shutdown of the coal plant, which was inaugurated only on January 8 and went on commercial operation on February 2. 

NGCP quoted Steag management the shutdown was “necessary to ensure optimum availability of its capacity during the critical period, which is summer.”

The Davao Light management has already described the situation as “unstable power supply in Mindanao,” saying that it was due to the decreasing water elevation of major hydroelectric power plants caused by El Niño and the bombings of NGCP transmission lines.

The Mindanao grid relies on 53 percent of the power generated from the Agus River in Lanao and the Pulangui River in Bukidnon. 

Davao Light said, “Rotating-power interruptions are projected to continue until summer. New generating plants in Mindanao, which Davao Light has contracted additional power supply, are said to be available in May and August 2016.”

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