Mindanao power problem close to solution

Hydroelectric power station in Mindanao

The Manila Electric Company (Meralco), the largest power distributor in the Philippines, and Global Business Power Corp (GBPC), also a major provider, have announced plans to enter Mindanao for the first time to establish solutions for the island’s woefully inadequate power supply.

Mindanao, the Philippines’ second largest island, suffers from persistent blackouts that are debilitating to industrial growth.

“At one point,” Alvin Capino recently wrote in the Manila Standard Today, “many areas in Mindanao suffered rotating 12-hour blackouts that naturally adversely affected once-booming businesses from tuna exports to internet shops and made life generally miserable to people living there.”

The Philippine power giants mark the first united effort to address the island’s electricity issues. A joint agreement signed by both Meralco and GBPC is expected to be finalized “shortly,” according to Meralco President and CEO Oscar S. Reyes, and will cover a possible four projects, including coal-powered and hydroelectric plants.

Some of the projects will generate 100 megawatts, which will go to addressing the island’s estimated daily power shortage of 123 megawatts, according to the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines.

Mindanao has been experiencing severe power problems for the past two years, mainly from faulty power sources and increased industrial demand.

The Agus-Pulangui hydropower complex, which supplies more than half of Mindanao’s power supply, is currently producing only 635 megawatts of its 982 megawatts capacity due to the heavy siltation of the rivers that power the complex.

The crisis has propelled provincial governments into action, but with a lack of resources the answers haven’t been ideal.

Zamboanga City, an urbanised center in southwest Mindanao, is expected to begin experiencing daily three-hour brownouts due to the National Power Corporation’s decision to reduce power supply in the city by 10 megawatts to meet other more critical needs on the island.

This agreement by Meralco and GBPC will likely be high atop the discussion agenda on February 1, when political and business leaders meet in Davao, Mindanao’s largest city, to discuss the island’s developmental course.

Meralco is a regularly traded listed company and GBPC is the leading independent power provider in the Visayas, with a combined total capacity of 633 megawatts of power capacity for the region.