Palace stands by Petilla amid brownouts

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 07 2014 08:49 AM | Updated as of Mar 07 2014 04:49 PM

MANILA – Department of Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla continues to enjoy the trust and confidence of President Aquino despite the rotating power interruptions in Mindanao.

Secretary Sonny Coloma of the Presidential Communication Operations Office said Petilla is "actively working" and that as far as he knows, "continues to enjoy the trust and confidence of the President."

Coloma appealed for more patience from those affected by the power supply disruptions.

"Nauunawaan naman natin yan. Siguro kahit tayo iinit din ang ulo natin. Pero hindi naman nakukuha sa init ng ulo ang solusyon. Ang solusyon ay dagdag na kapasidad. Kaya iyong dagdag na kapasidad, nagsimula yan sa kasalukuyang administrasyon at matatapos na nga iyong 500 megawatts by 2015, another 400 megawatts by 2016," Coloma said.

Coloma maintained that the government is not standing by idly as power supply disruptions are happening in Mindanao.

"Kagimbal-gimbal na sabihin na merong rotating brownouts. But it is not as if people are just standing idly by. Ginagawan nila ng solusyon yon dahil hindi biru-biro iyong walang kuryente. Tinututukan po yan ng masinsinan, hour by hour… This is a systemic problem that requires a systemic solution to be provided by all of the stakeholders," he said.

According to Coloma, the government is committed to provide steady and stable power supply.

"According to the Department of Energy, today’s supply—the current supply in Mindanao—is 1,064 megawatts compared to the peak demand estimated at 1,222 megawatts. Therefore, there is a shortfall of 158 megawatts," he revealed.

"This explains why there are rotating brownouts at an average of two to three hours, except in Maguindanao province that is currently experiencing up to more than 10 hours of power interruption daily."

Coloma reported the following measures to address this shortfall:

• Use of embedded generators by distribution utilities to augment power supply;
• Adoption of the interruptible load program. This involves voluntary use of generator sets by consumers for which they will receive compensation based on ERC approved rates;
• Continuing repair and rehabilitation of the 210-megawatt STEAG coal-fired power plant in the Phividec estate in Misamis Oriental. This is estimated to take from two to three months; and
• Continuing repair and rehabilitation of existing hydroelectric power plants.

Coloma further said that the government is closely monitoring ongoing projects that will increase power supply in Mindanao by up to 900 megawatts.

"These new projects include the 200-megawatt coal-fired plant of the Alsons’ group and the 300-megawatt Aboitiz-owned coal-fired plant, which will both come online by 2015. Another 400 megawatts will become operational in 2016 and this is the coal-fired plant owned by Filinvest. So 500 (MW) in 2015, 400 (MW) in 2016; so an additional of 900 (MW) to address the current, which is around 1,200 (MW)," he said.

The DOE, Coloma said, continues to undertake reforms in the power sector including actively pursuing for 50/50 energy between traditional and renewable energy, with increased private sector investments in hydroelectric, biomass, and solar power.

Coloma also expressed belief that the DOE has availed of the benefits of an Executive Order issued by President Aquino in 2012 that will allow the DOE to bring modular gensets to Mindanao to ease the supply shortfall there.

In July last year, the President already approved a P4.5-billion loan for the purchase of modular generator sets. This was in EO 137. Its aim was to increase the base load, or the available supply until more power plants get on stream by 2015.