QUEZON CITY Mindanao lawmakers have raised various proposals on how to address the power shortage gripping Mindanao.
House Deputy Speaker and Zamboanga City First District Rep. Ma. Isabelle Beng Climaco said Zamboanga City is at the tail end of power distribution; hence strict implementation of extraction is needed.
Climaco also proposed the creation of a Mindanao Power Corporation so that hydro-complexes can be self-sufficient and be improved without waiting for national government.
As a legislator, Climaco said she espoused and filed House Bill 6308 last year for the establishment of the Mindanao Power Corporation, which aims to ensure the viability and sound operations of the Agus-Pulangui Hydro power plants while ensuring that its profitability would benefit Mindanaons rather than the pockets of a few capitalists.
Relatedly, Climaco also filed House Bill 6061 last year to prescribe urgent measures to effectively address the electric power crisis in Mindanao. She also helped organized the Mindanao Power Crisis Summit to help ventilate and crystallize the power problem.
Climaco enjoined all stakeholders to contribute to the resolution of the power shortage as she stressed that solutions should be clearly calculated and well-thought of.
For instance, she said in terms of supply, the Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative (ZAMCELCO) should contract enough electricity to satisfy its total demand. Government officials and the rest of the citizenry should check on how ZAMCELCO is being run and ensure that it has contracted enough power.
On the part of the business sector, she urged it to cooperate and help ZAMCELCO implement the Interruptible Load Program (ILP). The ILP is a demand-side management scheme, which provides payment to participating power consumers who enter a contract with ZAMCELCO for the voluntary interruption or reduction of the power supply given to them during peak period or during emergency conditions.
She also urged the industrial sector and Chamber of Commerce to explore the time of use program by shifting their operations to off-peak periods.
According to Climaco, the most concrete action that can be done is for Zamboanga City to institute its own energy conservation program.
ZAMCELCO and other stakeholders can do an information campaign to encourage consumers to conserve energy by encouraging the use of electric fans instead of air-cons. Large consumers can institute energy saving programs by minimizing the use of air-conditioning and using only energy efficient bulbs, she said.
The local government unit (LGU) can lead by example. Participate in ILP and energy conservation. We should also tap renewables, solar bulbs, solar panels, and garbage-to-energy technology, Climaco said.
Climaco reiterated her proposals during the recent Zamboanga Power Forum, which was attended by Energy Secretary Carlos Petilla and Mindanao Development Authority (MINDA) Chairperson Secretary Luwalhati Antonino and other representatives from agencies under the Cabinet energy cluster.
Zamboanga City has been experiencing seven to eight hours rotational blackout daily because of the power curtailment in Mindanao brought about by the reduced water level in Lake Lanao, which is the source of hydropower.
Based on reports, this March, the power demand of Zamboanga City is 79.821-MW but the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (Psalm) and the Therma Marine Inc. (TMI) could only provide a combined power of 54-MW, bringing the shortage to over 24-MW which translates to at least seven to eight hours blackout daily.
Meanwhile, Rep. Simeon Datumanong (2nd District, Maguindanao) said the immediate solution to the Mindanao power crisis is to assign power barges or tap existing private power sources especially to ensure no disruption of power supply during the election.
Reacting to reports of a looming power rate hike in Mindanao, Datumanong said the government should ensure that consumers would not be unduly burdened of any such rate increase.
I think that is inevitable, although the government should try to ensure reasonable increase so that it will not be very heavy for the poor people, said Datumanong, a former justice secretary and Deputy Speaker for Mindanao.
The Energy Regulatory Commission earlier said if the government decides to purchase generator sets or gensets to augment the current insufficient power supply, distribution utilities and cooperatives will have to file a petition to recover the cost of generators.
At present, Mindanao has a power shortfall of 294 megawatts, as the demand stands at 1,157 MW versus the actual supply of only 863 MW. The government reportedly has allotted P3.8 billion for the countrys power capabilities. It includes an amount for the rehabilitation of existing hydroelectric power plants in the south.(PNA)