3.07.2010

PIA News Service - Saturday, March 6, 2010

Mindanao power crisis threatens to lay off 1,000 electric coops workers

BUTUAN CITY (March 6) – The power crisis in Mindanao is likely to lay off about 1,000 employees and workers of 27 electric cooperatives in the island.

In an interview with top officials of various electric cooperatives in Mindanao, work scheduling, rotation of works and even temporary retrenchment might take effect to avert further losses if the power curtailment imposed by the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) and National Power Corp. (Napocor) to various cooperatives will continue unabated.

The NGCP and Napocor are imposing two,six or hours rotating power curtailment to different electric cooperatives in Mindanao since last month due to power deficiency.

However, the fallback position, particularly the retrenchment of workers, will only be done and effected if upon approval of the Energy Regulatory board (ERC).

“This only happens if the situation will worsen. We also abide to our cooperative board and ERC decision based on our recommendation to avert further losses,” said Horacio T. Santos, general manager of the 97,000 billed consumers of the Agusan del Norte Electric Cooperative (Aneco).

At least 43 percent of the major industries and the electric cooperatives have lost millions of pesos since the start of power curtailment in Agusan del Norte and Butuan City, the area where big companies and regional offices in the Caraga region operate.

If the power crisis in the southern island also worsened, the region’s largest electric cooperative is also planning to buy two megawatts of electricity from the 100- megawatt Nasipit Power Barge, which has just been bought by the Aboitiz group on March 1, this year.

The Davao del Sur Electric Coop. (Dasureco) plans to retrench some of their workers to avoid further losses.

Jesus Dela Victoria, Dasureco general manager, said the firm lost at least 50 percent of its revenues even before the NGCP started implementing the load curtailment scheme as Mindanao’s hydropower plants lost water due to the dry spell.

Officials of the Association of Mindanao Rural Electric Cooperatives (Amreco) also voiced the same strategy and planned to retrench workers to avert further losses.

However, Amreco officials blew their top when government allegedly planned to reduce their power allocation to only 50 percent if the power situation worsen.

This development came out during an emergency meeting with Amreco and Napocor early this week in Cagayan de Oro City.

"Imagine the implications of this move. This means that 50 percent of revenues from power consumers will be gone. If our coop's load is reduced it will also reduce more or less the load of every electric coop, every private power company, even that of industrial customers," said Amreco president Sergio Dagooc.

As this developed, the latest NGCP advisory said that the STEAG Power Inc.'s coal-fired power plant has increased its capability from 150 MWs to 210 MWs.

Another plant, Aboitiz Power Corp.’s Therma Marine Unit 2, was already synchronized to the grid on Friday. It is now generating 47 MWs.

However, the NGCP’s advisory said the total available capacity of 820 MWs in the Mindanao grid would still be insufficient to meet the peak demand of 1,470 MWs.

The NGCP said the water elevation at Lake Lanao was at 699.06 meters, which is below the critical level of 699.15 meters.

Technical men from NGCP, Napocor and some electric cooperatives said that if the low water level will continue in Lake Lanao and Bukidnon, hydro-electric power plants might force to shutdown to avert further damages of its turbines.

In a related development, the Oro Chamber of Commerce and Industry together with the PHIVIDEC Industries Association (PIE-MO) and the Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Industries (COCI) on Saturday appealed to concerned government offices to address the present power supply problem in Mindanao to avert further losses.

The group cited the need to immediately repair the Agus 2-Kibawe 138 kilovolt (kv) transmission line and the Maramag-Bunawan 230kv backbone project.

The Oro Chamber and its partner organizations expect that the government will also give the same attention to Agus 5 as well as strongly campaign for additional investments into the power sector of the island.

The Chamber will be presenting its paper on the non privatization of the Agus and Pulangi hydro electric power plants to the Regional Development Council (RDC) in Region 10 on March 11, this year for possible endorsement. (muc/PIA-Caraga)

 

UNDP exec: Good governance is key to RP peace and development

MARFIL, Rosario, Agusan del Sur - United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Country Director Renaud Meyer challenged residents and local officials of Barangay Marfil to disseminate information to other barangays in Agusan del Sur about their successes in their local peace and development initiatives and efforts.

"By doing so, you can make a statement that amidst all support given by the UNDP, the New Zealand Government and even from your own national government, it is always that good governance practices exerted by local barangay officials is key to success for peace and development efforts," Meyer told Barangay Marfil residents and officials who gathered at the Barangay Social Hall here.

He said UNDP would be most happy if through the experiences Barangay Marfil learned in peace and development efforts, local residents and officials themselves can help duplicate their successes to other communities in the province if not in the whole of Caraga Region.

“I am challenging you to become ambassadors for peace and development, contaminate that spirit of peace within you to others, let them understand how it works and how it will work for them for today’s generations and the generations to come,” Meyer said.

He added that truly efficient, corruption-free, relevant and good governance especially in marginalized communities has always been the barometer in achieving peace, unity and progress in the Philippines and elsewhere and that resources are only tools in achieving goals.

Secretary Dureza who is National Programme Director for the UN-GoP Act for Peace admitted that the program cannot provide assistance to all barangays in Agusan del Sur due to limited resources to fund various programs under Act For Peace.

The UN-GoP Act for Peace Programme has identified 37 barangays out of total 1,301 barangays in Caraga Region as Peace and Development Communities (PDCs). Of the 37 PDCs for entire Caraga Region, eight are in Agusan del Sur.

According to Act for Peace, a PDC is a marginalized, conflict affected community which is in the process of transformation with the help of various development partners. It may consist of a barangay or a barangay and adjacent households marked by a convergence of peace-building and development activities.

Dureza said the Act for Peace Programme in the country will end by December this year and it will now depend on partner countries whether to extend the program.

Among assistance provided to Barangay Marfil were; construction of Barangay Health Station, provision of medical equipment, establishment of Botika Sa Barangay, installation of potable water system and establishment of rice trading center. These projects were priorities set by by the community themselves in their Barangay Development Plan that they formulated using peace-sensitive and participatory resource appraisal approaches.

The program itself and funding efforts were managed by UNDP, the Act for Peace Programme being implemented by the Mindanao Economic Development Council or MEDCO, in partnership with concerned local government units of Caraga Region. The programme is also supported by the governments of Australia, Spain and European Union.

In her speech before mammoth crowd here who attended the short program for the dignitaries visit, Agusan del Sur officials headed by Governor Maria Valentina Plaza thanked the donor countries, the New Zealand Ambassador, UNDP Country Director Meyer and Dureza for the assistance they give to Barangay Marfil.

Plaza has called on every Barangay Marfil resident and official to nurture peace not only for the present generation but for future generations to come.

She has given token and plagues of appreciation to the foreign dignitaries and to Secretary Dureza as way of thanking them.

For his part, New Zealand Ambassador Andrew Matheson told Barangay Marfil residents and local officials that his country is committed to promote peace and development in the Philippines particularly in Caraga Region.

He also challenged local officials and barangay residents to spread the culture of peace and the good news it brings to communities where unity is very much needed to attain not only inner peace but goodwill to mankind. (Ben Serrano/ PIA-Caraga)