ROUGH CUTS| Mindanao’s tight power supply

WELL, these days it appears that both parents and children cannot anymore be trusted by each other.

Remember the recent news in Metro Manila about a father almost killing his own two young kids with kicks, body blows and lashes? And remember that mother who killed her daughter and just vanished into thin air?

A reversal of event happened in Davao City last Saturday afternoon in Barangay Bucana. This time it was the 18-year old son hitting the head of his mother with a plastic gallon resulting to the instantaneous death of the victim.

All the while we thought that there is that special bond between parents and children. Apparently, it seems slowly evolving into fiction these days.


During the last few days we have observed series of power interruptions in Davao City, one area that can boast of brown-out free situation because of the stand-by generating plant of the electricity distributor and its active contract for power supply from alternative sources.

Thus, if power outages are occurring in the city rather regularly, it is only an indication that the supply situation is in serious predicament.

Yes, because Mindanao is still very much dependent of its electricity supply from the government’s two major hydroelectric plants in the Lanao provinces and in Bukidnon. Other hydro plant sources also have limited capacity. And the much expected coal-fired power plants, except for the 210 megawatt STEAG Power in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental, are still under construction stage.

Of course we have heard that the Aboitiz-owned Therma South coal plant is now on line. As to how many megawatts, we have no idea. We however, have some doubts whether it was the earlier-committed 150 megawatts because if it is that capacity, or part of it, has been supplied to Davao City, then perhaps, interruptions will still be very minimal in terms of occurrence and duration.

Nonetheless, we see the present power situation in the island, and now in Davao City itself, as a consequence to our over dependence from hydro-generated power. Probably, this is the reason why approval by government regulators of power projects using coal takes too long. One example is the construction of the Aboitiz-owned Therma South in Binugao. The negotiations with local government units where the plant is covered by its jurisdiction started late 2010 and construction was finally started in 2013. And with only the first line considered fully operational middle of this year, then we can say that Mindanaoans, Davaoenos in particular, have waited for five longs years.

And at the rate development is coming to Davao City it should not be surprising that even with the addition of the power from Therma South we still lack electricity.

Of course people ought to know that hydro-generated power is not very reliable because water, the element that is used to run the turbines, is also dependent on the weather condition prevailing in the island in a given time. The less rainfall there is, the lower the water level in the lakes that feed the power plant requirement.

Since we are experiencing less rains these days, so here we are suffering from power outages.

Maybe it is about time that government should re-assess its permitting requirements including the timetable for processing. If this bureaucratic red tape continues, time will come when there will be no more interested investors on power generating projects not only in Mindanao but in the entire country as well.


And since we are already talking about power generation, we might as well take up something about the plan of a Metro Manila-based investor, the San Lorenzo Ruiz Olympia Power and Water, Inc. This company is proposing to the city government an investment of $5 million to build a 160 megawatt run-of-river type hydroelectric power plant tapping the Tamugan-Davao River water.

For certain, its first major hurdle will be the permitting requirements both from the local and national government. Then it has to deal with the idiosyncrasies of barangay leaders and residents themselves.

Its other major hurdles of course, are the so-called environmentalist groups, they who espouse the cause of environmental protection. They are a mixed group that requires savvy in dealing with because advocacy is derived from certain level of commitment and belief very much like ideology. If this company is prepared for these blocks, then we can say that it can course through faster than expected.


Posted in Opinion