MINDANAO-WIDE BLACKOUT

FEBRUARY 27 -Mindanao experienced an island-wide power outage yesterday, a day after Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla got a dressing down from President Aquino for the delay in the full restoration of electricity in all areas affected by Typhoon Pablo in December 2012. Petilla said the cause of the blackout, which started at 3:53 a.m., could not yet be determined. Security officials downplayed the island-wide blackout, saying they have not received any report of threats on the power situation in Mindanao. “But we are looking into all aspects of the incident,” a security official who requested anonymity told The STAR. The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said it was business as usual for airports in Mindanao. CAAP deputy director general John Andrews said all airports were operational. “There is no shutdown as we are equipped with generators,” Andrews said. Petilla assured the public that the power outage is not an indicator of a worsening power situation in the country, although he conceded that Mindanao might experience three-hour rotating blackouts in the summer months due to a projected supply deficiency of 170 megawatts (MW) during this period. Yesterday’s power outage started when one of the government-owned Pulangi hydropower plants in Bukidnon bogged down.

ALSO: Zambo still in darkness by Nonoy E. Lacson March 3, 2014 MANILA BULLETIN

MARCH 3 -Zambo still in darkness 9-Hour Daily Brownouts Hurt Traders, Baffle Residents. This city continues to suffer from six to nine hours of daily brownouts as a result of the massive power failure that struck Mindanao last Feb. 27. At 3:53 a.m. that day, the entire island was blanketed in darkness for still unclear reason. The business community in this city is now losing millions of pesos in sales and income due to the daily brownouts imposed since last Thursday by the Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative (Zamcelco). Residents have been asking Zamcelco management why the city is still suffering from long rotational and daily brownouts considering that the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) reported last Feb. 28 that the Mindanao grid had already been fully re-energized as of 12:18 p.m. on Feb. 27. In a statement sent to the Manila Bulletin last Saturday, the Department of Energy (DOE) said they were closely monitoring the power situation in Mindanao, adding that an investigation on the root cause of the system-wide shutdown was underway.

ALSO: Millions without power in Mindanao

Millions of people were left without electricity in Mindanao yesterday after a massive power breakdown, officials said, as repair crews worked to determine the cause of the outage. The power outages began before dawn and affected heavily populated areas in Mindanao, home to a quarter of the country’s nearly 100-million population, officials said. “Reports indicate that the Mindanao grid experienced a disturbance at 3.53 am… (We are) still determining the cause and extent of the disturbance,” the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines said in a statement. Failure Of Privatized Power Industry- In the House of Representatives, members of the political minority said the power outage highlights the failure of the country’s privatized power industry. “Despite the high cost of electricity that consumers are paying, we are not assured of a steady, sufficient and reliable power supply. Power customers do not deserve this kind of disservice,” Anakpawis Party-list Rep. Fernando Hicap said in a statement. Hicap said the problem under a privatized regime is that it strips the government of control over the industry.

ALSO: Power restored in most parts of Mindanao—NGCP

Power has been restored in most parts of Mindanao, as of 12 noon Thursday, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) claimed. Melfrance Capulong, speaking for the NGCP, said power was restored at about 9:30 a.m. in the provinces and cities of the Davao region, General Santos, Zamboanga, Pagadian, Cagayan de Oro and parts of Misamis Oriental. Power in Kidapawan City, host of Mt. Apo geothermal power plant, was restored at 11 a.m. Capulong said as of Thursday afternoon that the NGCP was still determining what triggered the power interruption at the Mindanao grid at 3:53 a.m. Thursday. Ivy Henson, speaking for the Energy Development Corporation, which runs the Mt. Apo geothermal plant, said prior to the grid disturbance that affected most of Mindanao, the plants were operating normally at base-load capacity. As of early afternoon on Thursday, the geothermal plants in Kidapawan City have been operating on household capacity and awaiting go signal from NGCP to go back on line, Henson said.

ALSO: Power disturbance hits Mindanao Inquirer Mindanao

A massive power disturbance hit Mindanao on Thursday dawn and the cause has yet to be determined.
The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines said the power disturbance started at around 3:53 a.m.
“Reports indicate that the Mindanao grid experienced a disturbance at 3:53 a.m. NGCP is still determin
ing the cause and extent of the disturbance,” the NGCP, in a statement, said.

ALSO: Aquino lightly scolds officials for power lack in Cateel

President Benigno Aquino III was in good spirits on Monday when he faced the residents of Cateel, Davao Oriental, to check on their situation after the devastation of Typhoon “Pablo” (international name: Bopha). He said at first he thought they were at the wrong place. “Talagang nagbabalik na ang normalidad sa inyong lalawigan. Ibang-iba na ito sa nakita nating sitwasyon matapos ang paghagupi ng bagyong Pablo,” he said, smiling. (The province is indeed back to normal. The situation is very different to what happened after the onslaught of typhoon Pablo.) But that did not stop the President from lightly scolding his officials for failing to restore power in some areas of the province since Pablo hit the country in December 2012. “Ako’y nagulat na meron pa palang lugar dito na hindi pa nababalik ang kuryente. Tapos ang sagot sa akin meron na pong pending request ang NEA (National Electrification Administration). Sagot ng DBM (Department of Budget and Management) wala ho sa aming request. Tinatatanong ko ngayon ang DOE (Department of Energy) nasan ba talaga ang request na iyan?” Aquino recounted to the residents.

 


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Mindanao-wide blackout

 
VIDEO NEWS: Published on Feb 28, 2014 Balitanghali is the daily noontime newscast of GMA News TV anchored by Raffy Tima and Pia Arcangel. It airs Mondays to Fridays at 11:30 AM (PHL Time). From Balitanghali, visit http://www.gmanetwork.com/balitanghali

MANILA, MARCH 3, 2014 (PHILSTAR) By Iris Gonzales - Mindanao experienced an island-wide power outage yesterday, a day after Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla got a dressing down from President Aquino for the delay in the full restoration of electricity in all areas affected by Typhoon Pablo in December 2012.

Petilla said the cause of the blackout, which started at 3:53 a.m., could not yet be determined.

Security officials downplayed the island-wide blackout, saying they have not received any report of threats on the power situation in Mindanao.

“But we are looking into all aspects of the incident,” a security official who requested anonymity told The STAR.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines said it was business as usual for airports in Mindanao.

CAAP deputy director general John Andrews said all airports were operational.

“There is no shutdown as we are equipped with generators,” Andrews said.

Petilla assured the public that the power outage is not an indicator of a worsening power situation in the country, although he conceded that Mindanao might experience three-hour rotating blackouts in the summer months due to a projected supply deficiency of 170 megawatts (MW) during this period.

Yesterday’s power outage started when one of the government-owned Pulangi hydropower plants in Bukidnon bogged down.

By noon, however, 70 percent of the power supply had been restored.

A total of 1,100 to 1,200 MW went offline.

“We cannot make a conclusion right now until we see the reports. The focus is on restoration and none of the plants were damaged,” Petilla said in a press briefing.

When asked if there are indications of sabotage, the energy chief said authorities are not ruling out anything yet.

“We will not rule out anything but we cannot see indications of sabotage,” Petilla said.

He said it was difficult to immediately determine the cause of the power outage because the system in Mindanao is “antiquated” compared to the Luzon grid.

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), the country’s grid operator, also still does not know the cause of the power outage.

Initial reports showed that affected areas include Davao City, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley, North Cotabato, Bukidnon, Maguindanao, Zamboanga City, Butuan City, General Santos City, South Cotabato, Cagayan de Oro CIty, and Sultan Kudarat.

In a separate advisory, the NGCP said transmission service has been restored in Davao City, General Santos City, Zamboanga City, Pagadian City, Cagayan de Oro City and parts of Misamis Oriental.

Davao City also went without water as electricity was needed to pump water from the various wells of the Davao City Water District.

In a television interview, NGCP spokesperson Cynthia Alabanza said they have no “concrete information“ yet on the cause of the power outage.

Both Petilla and Alabanza said it was difficult to speculate on the cause of the outage.

No cause for alarm

Petilla said there was no cause for alarm as there were no indications that armed groups or unidentified sectors carried out attacks on the power plants.

“This is something that can be controlled. I’m more worried about supply. Tripping can happen but you really need supply,” he said.

He said the energy department would be conducting its own investigation to determine what caused the power outage and if there are entities that should be investigated or penalized.

“We will ask them to explain,” Petilla said, when asked if the government would slap sanctions on NGCP if it is found to be liable.

Last May 8, an island-wide power outage also hit Luzon when one of NGCP’s transmission lines went down.

Petilla said he is counting on the private sector to push through with their plans to build new power plants in Mindanao.

The Mindanao power outage comes amid a disputed power rate hike in Luzon between Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) and power consumers.

Meralco’s generation charge rose to P9.10 per kilowatt-hour in December last year and is still the subject of ongoing hearings at the Supreme Court.

TUCP seeks probe

The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) yesterday sought a probe into the real cause of the massive power outage in Mindanao.

It said the government must explain the reason behind the massive power outage that caused great inconvenience to the people of Mindanao, especially workers.

“With no one from the government able to explain the cause, this incident is sowing fear and uncertainty to the people,” TUCP spokesman Alex Tanjusan said.

Restored in 45 days

Meanwhile, Petilla again assured the public that power in Cateel, Davao hit by Typhoon Pablo would be restored in 45 days.

He said it would be up to the President to decide if after 45 days, he would fulfill his promise.

Last Dec. 25, Petilla offered to resign after he was unable to fulfill his promise of restoring power in areas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda in November.

“On power, I just talked to (Budget) Secretary (Florencio) Abad and (Energy) Secretary (Jericho) Petilla and our NEA (National Electrification Administration) administrator. I called them because I am shocked to learn that there are still places that don’t have electricity. They told me that NEA has a pending request. DBM, however, claimed the request is not with them. I am now asking the Department of Energy where the request is,” Aquino said in a speech commemorating the 28th anniversary of the People Power revolution in Cebu.

Reports from Davao Oriental noted that power has not yet been restored in 24 of the 42 barangays in Baganga, Cateel and Boston, the towns hardest hit by Pablo.

The Davao Oriental Electric Cooperative has a fund request submitted to both the NEA and DOE for power restoration efforts.

Mindanao Business Council chairman Vicente Lao said the losses due to the blackout were not that much.

“There will be losses but not that significant because they addressed it. The power outage was not that long really,” Lao said.

Meralco to pay P7 B

Meralco will pay power generators over a period of six months unpaid dues of roughly P7 billion.

The amount represents unpaid dues owed by Meralco to power firms after the Supreme Court (SC) issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) against its December bill.

In effect, this will ease the burden on power firms and allow them to pay their fuel supply and consequently assure a more stable power supply.

Petilla hoped that the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), the power regulator, will soon come up with a decision on the disputed rate hike to end uncertainties.

The P7 billion represents power sourced from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), the country’s trading floor for electricity.

Petilla said not all power generators would be covered by the agreement as some opted to have their own negotiations with Meralco.

The energy chief has been urging both Meralco and power generators to negotiate on the power distributor’s unpaid obligations pending the decision of the high court.

The SC issued a 60-day TRO on Meralco’s December 2013 generation charge of P9.10 per kilowatt-hour, acting on petitions filed by militant groups.

Meralco owes power generators some P13 billion for power sourced from the WESM for the December 2013 and January 2014 billing months.

Petilla said he has been urging Meralco and generators to negotiate pending the court’s decision on the TRO amid threats of possible blackouts due to Meralco’s inability to collect from consumers.

Meralco’s generation charge climbed in December during the 30-day maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya natural gas platform, which supplies three power plants in Luzon. The power plants had to use the more expensive liquid fuel.

The ERC has asked Meralco to explain the “confusing” billing statements sent to consumers.

Meralco’s bills had a portion on deferred charges because its December bill rose to P9.10 per kWh although they had to peg the bill at P5.67 per kWh.

The firm also had to peg to P5.67 per kwh its January bill in deference to the TRO, which only covered the December bill.

It said the data on deferred charges was meant to inform customers the amount they need to pay in case the TRO is lifted. -– With John Unson, Roel Pareño, Mayen Jaymalin, Gerry Lee Gorit, Edith Regalado, Lawrence Agcaoili

FROM MANILA BULLETIN

Zambo still in darkness by Nonoy E. Lacson
March 3, 2014

9-Hour Daily Brownouts Hurt Traders, Baffle Residents

Zamboanga City – This city continues to suffer from six to nine hours of daily brownouts as a result of the massive power failure that struck Mindanao last Feb. 27. At 3:53 a.m. that day, the entire island was blanketed in darkness for still unclear reason.

The business community in this city is now losing millions of pesos in sales and income due to the daily brownouts imposed since last Thursday by the Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative (Zamcelco).

Residents have been asking Zamcelco management why the city is still suffering from long rotational and daily brownouts considering that the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) reported last Feb. 28 that the Mindanao grid had already been fully re-energized as of 12:18 p.m. on Feb. 27.

In a statement sent to the Manila Bulletin last Saturday, the Department of Energy (DOE) said they were closely monitoring the power situation in Mindanao, adding that an investigation on the root cause of the system-wide shutdown was underway.

The NGCP reported that the Mindanao system demand stood at 785 MW while the supply was at 853 MW, thus having a 93-MW reserve, at around 3:52 a.m. on Feb. 27 when all the lights went out.

Residents in this city, however, claimed that Mindanao is suffering from low power generation, hence electric cooperatives are now receiving reduced power allocations.

The DOE said initial reports indicated that a tripping of the power lines occurred, emanating from the breaker of a switchyard in a power plant.

The DOE and National Transmission Corporation (TransCo) are still gathering information to validate the reports from the National Power Corporation (NPC), the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and NGCP, the DOE statement said.

Millions without power in Mindanao  by AFP, Ellson Quismorio and Myrna Velasco
February 28, 2014


MARCHI 1-Mindanao still without power. A Grade 6 student from the Sero Elementary school in Cotabato City does her homework using a gas lamp as blackout hit Mindanao on Thursday, February 27. The Department of Energy said a transmission problem may have caused the massive power outage. Omar Mangorsi

Millions of people were left without electricity in Mindanao yesterday after a massive power breakdown, officials said, as repair crews worked to determine the cause of the outage.

The power outages began before dawn and affected heavily populated areas in Mindanao, home to a quarter of the country’s nearly 100-million population, officials said.

“Reports indicate that the Mindanao grid experienced a disturbance at 3.53 am… (We are) still determining the cause and extent of the disturbance,” the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines said in a statement.

Failure Of Privatized Power Industry

In the House of Representatives, members of the political minority said the power outage highlights the failure of the country’s privatized power industry.

“Despite the high cost of electricity that consumers are paying, we are not assured of a steady, sufficient and reliable power supply. Power customers do not deserve this kind of disservice,” Anakpawis Party-list Rep. Fernando Hicap said in a statement.

Hicap said the problem under a privatized regime is that it strips the government of control over the industry.

“The government lacks power over the entire power industry. That is the problem. Even the Department of Energy cannot answer what caused the blackout,” said Hicap, part of the leftist Makabayan bloc in Congress.

A fellow Makabayan lawmaker, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, said the Mindanao blackout proves the country’s power situation remains “precarious” a decade after the national government opted to privatize its power assets.

“[These blackouts] only show how the Electric Power Industry Reform Act also miserably failed us all these years,” Zarate said.

“Worse still, despite these problems and utter failure, the Aquino government still wants to further our sufferings by implementing the Interim Mindanao Electricity Market, the same corporate scheme that is one of the main cause of the high power prices in Luzon and the Visayas, the same greedy mechanism used by power players to game the electricity industry, to the utter detriment of the hapless consumers,” he added.

Sabotage Not Ruled Out

In the Department of Energy, Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said sabotage has not been totally ruled out in the system-wide blackout which plunged Mindanao grid into darkness.

Replying to reporters’ questions, Petilla said, “I will not make a conclusion at this point unless I receive report from our people on the ground, but anything is possible so I can’t rule out anything,” emphasizing the initial focus of all industry players had been on power supply restoration.

Petilla, however, qualified that if the system disturbance was caused by an explosion or sabotage, the restoration of power supply could not have reached 70-percent as of noon yesterday.

He said the tripping started at the line connecting the 240-megawatt Pulangui hydropower plant in Bukidnon at about 3:53 a.m. Thursday, an off-peak period of consumption.

Full restoration was anticipated before night time Thursday which, according to the energy chief, could be around 6 p.m.

According to system operator National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, it is “still determining the cause and is working to restore the power transmission service to all power customers in Mindanao.”

In its latest advisory as of 9:30 a.m. yesterday, the electricity service of some areas had been brought back, including Davao City, General Santos City, Zamboanga City, Pagadian City, Cagayan de Oro City, and parts of Misamis Oriental.

Mindanao, the country’s second largest island which relies mostly on hydroelectricity, has been grappling with chronic power shortages for years.

12 Areas Affected

The NGCP said at least 12 Mindanao’s key cities and provinces – including major trading hubs – were affected, although limited power was restored in some parts a few hours later.

An electricity shortage last year forced the NGCP to ration off supply in Mindanao, resulting in up to 12 hour daily blackouts which damaged the local economy as factories slowed production.

The power cuts on Thursday hit islanders just as they were getting ready for work.

“I had to keep using my lighter because the shops were still closed and we didn’t have candles,” said market vendor and mother-of-two Mary Villasenor from the southern Davao City. (With a report from Mike U. Crismundo)

FROM THE INQUIRER

Power restored in most parts of Mindanao—NGCP By Edwin Fernandez
Inquirer Mindanao 2:56 pm | Thursday, February 27th, 2014

KIDAPAWAN CITY, Philippines — Power has been restored in most parts of Mindanao, as of 12 noon Thursday, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) claimed.

Melfrance Capulong, speaking for the NGCP, said power was restored at about 9:30 a.m. in the provinces and cities of the Davao region, General Santos, Zamboanga, Pagadian, Cagayan de Oro and parts of Misamis Oriental.

Power in Kidapawan City, host of Mt. Apo geothermal power plant, was restored at 11 a.m.

Capulong said as of Thursday afternoon that the NGCP was still determining what triggered the power interruption at the Mindanao grid at 3:53 a.m. Thursday.

Ivy Henson, speaking for the Energy Development Corporation, which runs the Mt. Apo geothermal plant, said prior to the grid disturbance that affected most of Mindanao, the plants were operating normally at base-load capacity.

As of early afternoon on Thursday, the geothermal plants in Kidapawan City have been operating on household capacity and awaiting go signal from NGCP to go back on line, Henson said.

At 11:20 a.m., Henson said the EDC’s Mindanao 2 geothermal plants were running and supplying 14 megawatts to the Mindanao line.

Power disturbance hits Mindanao Inquirer Mindanao 8:40 am | Thursday, February 27th, 2014


http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/files/2013/05/mindanao-map.jpg

DAVAO CITY — A massive power disturbance hit Mindanao on Thursday dawn and the cause has yet to be determined.
The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines said the power disturbance started at around 3:53 a.m.

“Reports indicate that the Mindanao grid experienced a disturbance at 3:53 a.m. NGCP is still determining the cause and extent of the disturbance,” the NGCP, in a statement, said.

The NGCP said it was working to restore power transmission service to all power customers in Mindanao.
As of 7 a.m. Thursday, power has been restored in Davao City.

Aquino lightly scolds officials for power lack in Cateel 2:28 pm | Monday, February 24th, 2014


http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/files/2014/02/aquino-021414-e1392791860996.jpg

MANILA, Philippines – President Benigno Aquino III was in good spirits on Monday when he faced the residents of Cateel, Davao Oriental, to check on their situation after the devastation of Typhoon “Pablo” (international name: Bopha).

He said at first he thought they were at the wrong place.

“Talagang nagbabalik na ang normalidad sa inyong lalawigan. Ibang-iba na ito sa nakita nating sitwasyon matapos ang paghagupi ng bagyong Pablo,” he said, smiling.
(The province is indeed back to normal. The situation is very different to what happened after the onslaught of typhoon Pablo.)

But that did not stop the President from lightly scolding his officials for failing to restore power in some areas of the province since Pablo hit the country in December 2012.
“Ako’y nagulat na meron pa palang lugar dito na hindi pa nababalik ang kuryente. Tapos ang sagot sa akin meron na pong pending request ang NEA (National Electrification Administration). Sagot ng DBM (Department of Budget and Management) wala ho sa aming request. Tinatatanong ko ngayon ang DOE (Department of Energy) nasan ba talaga ang request na iyan?” Aquino recounted to the residents.

(I was surprised to learn that electricity is yet to be restored in some places here. The National Electrification Administration said they already have a pending request. But the Department of Budget and Management said the request is not with them. Now I am asking the Department of Energy where the request is.)

He was greeted with applause after saying that he already talked to Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla about the matter.

“Bago ako umalis sa Cateel kailangan ko ng sagot na matino at maayos. Talaga naman pong tayo’y bihirang mawalan ng pasensya, wag sana nilang subukan,” the President said in jest.
(Before I leave Cateel, I need a proper answer. I hope they don’t test my patience.)

For the rest of his speech, Aquino painted a rosy picture of how the area has recovered from the effects of past calamities. He mentioned the cash-for-work scheme of the government that benefited 57,890 individuals.

He said the government will make sure that things change for the better in areas hit by the previous disasters.

Cateel is only one of the several areas Aquino is set to visit this week, coinciding with the commemoration of the 28th anniversary of the Edsa People Power. He is expected to inspect bunkhouses in Loon, Bohol on Monday afternoon.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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