SP asked to help push for NPC’s power barge
posted 24-Mar-2019  ·  
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The Sangguniang Panlalawigan is set to discuss this week the request of the First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative, Inc. (FICELCO) to help convince the National Power Corporation (NPC) to push through with the installation of a power barge at Virac port.

The cooperative’s urgent request came after NPC president and chief executive officer Pio Benavidez informed Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy, that it would defer the deployment of Power Barge 106 to Catanduanes.

Benavidez, a native of Bato town, claimed that the project would be costly for the corporation as it could spend approximately P10 million for the construction of mooring facilities.

It may be recalled that during the 2018 Annual General Membership Meeting (AGMM) in Bato where the senator was keynote speaker, Gatchalian assured member-consumers that NPC would augment and stabilize the power situation in the province by deploying the power barge here.

In his letter, the NPC chief disclosed that Sunwest Water & Electric Co. (SUWECO) has “fast paced the deployment and installation of 6 megawatt mobile diesel gensets as part of SUWECO’s obligation to the 2nd Amendment of Energy Supply Agreement with FICELCO and the target date of completion will be on April 2019.”

As a result, Benavidez claimed, the dependable capacity will increase to 15.5 MW as against the present power demand of 12.5 MW and with a reserve capacity of 1.58 MW during dry summer.

He assured the senator that NPC is doing its best to provide reliable and sufficient power supply in Catanduanes.

The same air of confidence regarding the island grid’s power supply during the summer months, however, cannot be felt in the FICELCO management’s appeal to the provincial board.

In the letter addressed to the SP, General Manager Engr. Raul Zafe and Board President Rodulfo Vargas, as well as NEA project manager Eleno Desuyo Jr., reminded the PBMs of the perennial deficient power supply during the summer season and its dismal effect on member-consumers-owners.

In urging them to urge Sen. Gatchalian to order NPC to push through with the original plan of deployment, the co-op officials said that during the dry season, all of the hydro power plants at Balongbong, Solong and Hitoma have very low dependable capacity while the existing NPC gensets are already old, susceptible to frequent malfunction and takes longer time to repair.

“(I)n view of the forthcoming local and national elections, we direly need a reliable and efficient power supply,” they stressed. “If this will not be augmented, there is a very high possibility of rotational load shedding during the summer season.”

The letter did not touch on NPC’s disclosure that SUWECO’s 6.6-MW diesel gensets under the 2nd Amendment of the ESA would be completed by April 2019.

A copy of the Projected Power Supply-Demand Outlook for CY 2019 prepared by the cooperative shows that there would be no deficit in the power supply this summer, assuming that all NPC and SUWECO gensets are operational and the three mini-hydroelectric power plants are operated for four hours daily during peak hours of the summer months.

The scenario also takes into consideration the fact that Unit 1 of Marinawa Diesel Power Plant is not operating due to a failed emission test, Unit 7 is also out of commission because of a burned exciter motor, and Unit 3 at Viga DPP has been deactivated.

Rotating brownouts are foreseen once the 3.6-MW Daihatsu genset is taken out for preventive or corrective maintenance, leaving the grid with a deficit of 490 kilowatts by March, 1.29 MW by April, 1.60MW by May, 2,09MW by June and July, 1.99MW by August, 1.69MW by September and 1.39MW by October before the rainy season takes over.

Deficits of less than 1MW are projected for April to September if 1 MW of NPC Marinawa undergoes preventive maintenance while a similar scenario is seen for May to September once 0.8MW of SUWECO gensets are taken out due to PMS.

The scenarios painted by the FICELCO management, with the approval of the NEA project supervisor does not take into consideration the possible operation of the 6.6MW diesel-fired gensets of SUWECO, two units of which has been installed at the compound of the old FICELCO power plant in Marinawa.

Late last year, GM Zafe said the board of directors agreed with the testing and commissioning of the two brand-new diesel generating sets with a capability of 1.1-megawatts each last November 2018 but it will not allow its commercial operation until the ERC has approved Amendment No. 2 of the Electricity Supply Agreement (ESA) between SUWECO and the cooperative.

Both the board and management have earlier asked SUWECO to run the two diesel plans under Amendment No. 1 but the private power supplier flatly rejected the proposal and insisted on operating it under the controversial Amendment No. 2.

installation of the new gensets is particularly not covered by any existing agreement, a cooperative official said, and the power it would produce will not be subject to a government subsidy.

This means that the generation rate of the two new SUWECO gensets would be sold to FICELCO at its true cost of about P11 per kilowatthour, more than double the Subsidized Approved Generation Rate (SAGR) of P5.6404/kwh.

It is claimed that the board is not confident of the 2nd Amendment’s approval by the ERC before April this year, as SUWECO has yet to secure a Certificate of Endorsement from the Department of Energy (DOE).

The DOE, through Electric Power Industry Management Bureau officer-in-charge Mario Marasigan, has required SUWECO to provide the energy department with the formal concurrence of FICELCO through a board resolution, reaffirming its commitment to pursue and implement the 2nd Amendment of the ESA with SUWECO.

“Consequently, we expect SUWECO’s reaffirmation with definite timeline of activities in complying with its remaining contractual obligations with FICELCO which include the operation of Capipian Mii-Hydro Power Plant,” the DOE letter to SUWECO president and CEO Elizaldy Co stated.

Under the original ESA, the Solong mini-hydro power plant in San Miguel, Hitoma-1 MHPP and Hitoma-2 MHPP in Caramoran were supposed to be operational by 2010 and the Capipian MHP in 2013.

But in amending the ESA, the board agreed with the private power supplier that only the first two plants were to be completed by 2010, with the Capipian delivery moved back to 2018 and Hitoma 2 four years from the latter’s completion date.

The FICELCO board’s decision on the 1st Amendment was the subject of an adverse audit report by the National Electrification Administration, which stated that “(t)here was no explanation or justification observed regarding the failure of SUWECO to implement what is in the original ESA for the operational year of the 2 remaining MHP site(s).”

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