El Nino to bring more power woes to Davao

BY ROGER M. BALANZA

With the debilitating power crisis triggered by heat of summer drying up water sources of Mindanao hydro power plants, Davao City will also not find light in the fact that it has four power plants nearby to supply its needs.

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) has been rationing power in Mindanao as hydropower plants — the island’s main source of electricity — suffer low generating capacity due to dangerously low water levels of Lake Lanao.

Davao City, also suffering 6-hour rotation brown-outs with sole power provider Davao Light & Power Co. (DLPC)  dependent on the NGCP supply, may suffer more power woes with the four hydropower plants of Aboitiz Power in Davao del Sur also threatened by low-water level of its water source. Sibulan River.

HEDCOR'S Tudaya hydro power plant in Davao del Sur
HEDCOR’S Tudaya hydro power plant in Davao del Sur

Hedcor Inc., a subsidiary of Aboitiz Power, operates the hydropower plants – Sibulan A and Sibulan B, and Tudaya 1 and Tudaya 2 — in Sta. Cruz town in Davao del Sur.

Davao City (peak power needs at 330 MW) and Davao del Sur (72 MW) get part of their power supply from the Hedcor plants.

With El Nino — an abnormal hot weather pattern — threatening the Sibulan River water level, the Hedcor plants may also suffer from extremely low generating capacity in the coming days.

El Nino was expected to hit in October this year and to last up to June in 2015, according to the Philippine Atmospheric and Geophysical Services Administration (Pagasa).

Emmanuel B. Medelo, grid manager of Aboitiz-owned Hedcor Inc., said the the NGCP has already warned about the El Nino and its damaging effects on power generating capacities of hydropower plants in Mindanao.

Medelo, fresh from a meeting on the power situation in Mindanao organized by NGCP and held in Cagayan de Oro recently, said the coming of the El Nino is a fact based on a study of Project NOAH of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).

The upcoming drought season brought by El Nino will affect the generating capacity of hydropower plants, said Medelo.

Hedcor’s four hydropower plants in Davao del Sur depend on the Sibulan River to move turbines.

Even as the El Nino is yet to come, Sibulan River is already being affected by the summer heat, said Medelo adding there was a time when power generation capacity of the plants was cut down due to inadequate water volume from Sibulan River.

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