Power move

April 30, 2023 People's Journal 263 views

THE administration of President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. has swiftly acted on the power crisis in Occidental Mindoro with the operation of at least three power stations to provide 24-hour electricity power service in the province.

In an updated report to Malacanang on Friday, the National Electrification Administration (NEA) said NEA chief Antonio Mariano Almeda met with Luis Manuel Banzon, the owner of the Occidental Mindoro Consolidated Power Corporation (OMCPC), last April 27 to discuss the possible measures to remedy the current power crisis.

During the meeting, the two parties agreed to run the three power stations of OMCPC to address the current power supply concerns of the province.

The power stations in the Sablayan area which has 5 megawatts (MW) capacity; Mamburao, Paluan, Sta. Cruz, and Abra de Ilog (MAPSA) which has a 7MW capacity; and San Jose, Magsaysay, Rizal, Calitaan (SAMARICA), which has 20MW capacity, will be running 24-hours to provide electricity in the areas.

NEA noted that the peak demand of Occidental Mindoro Electric Cooperative Inc. (OMECO) is at 29 to 30MWs. It added that OMCPC’s three power plants are covered by Power Supply Agreements (PSAs) with OMECO.

The Sablayan and MAPSA PSAs were provisionally approved by Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) while OMCPC’s application for the SAMARICA PSA is still being processed by OMCPC.

Until recently, the NEA said OMCPC was operating only its SAMARICA power plant at a capacity of about 7.5 MW without running its Sablayan and MAPSA power plants.

In the same April 27 meeting, it was determined that the apparent reason why OMCPC was not operating its Sablayan and MAPSA power plants was due to the issue of whether OMCPC’s fuel cost is a pass-through cost.

Upon the orders of the NEA administrator, the NEA said OMCPC agreed to run its three power facilities notwithstanding any potential financial losses to Banzon and despite not having an approved rate from the ERC for the SAMARICA power plant which would allow him to recoup his cost of operations.

Banzon’s decision was driven by his desire to help alleviate the power crisis in the province, the NEA said.

The NEA chief pointed out that the severe shortage of power has greatly and adversely affected the Province’s basic services such as its public hospitals, placing lives at risk.

To date, there are no reports of blackouts in the Occidental Mindoro, the NEA noted.

Before requesting that OMCPC operate its power stations, the NEA official sought the clearance of Department of Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla, who greenlit the arrangement.

Banzon, while initially hesitant, agreed to operate the power plants situated, notwithstanding the expected financial losses, to supply residents in the province with electricity.

With all of OMCPC’s power stations running at full capacity, it would be able to supply about 30MW to 32MWs of power to OMECO, which should result in the substantial lessening, if not complete elimination, of blackouts in the province, the NEA added.

With the changes in the action plan of the NEA chief, NEA’s Lease and Operate Agreement (LOA) with and Power Systems Inc. (PSI) for the operation of the latter’s power plant in the province at a capacity of 5MW will continue to operate though in a reserve capacity.

The NEA also said the intended Emergency Power Supply Agreement (EPSA) with DMCI Power Corporation will not push through and the modular generators being transported to the provinces originally intended to service its public schools and hospitals will be kept there in case the same should be needed.