By Antonio Colina IV
DAVAO CITY – The Mindanao grid may not be affected by the effect of El Niño due to its current energy mix and sufficient supply status, Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) assistant secretary Romeo Montenegro said.
“Mindanao’s current energy mix and supply status may be able to spare Mindanao from the effects of a long dry spell to our power situation,” Montenegro said on Tuesday.
He explained that the hydropower sources now accounted for only 30 percent of the Mindanao’s energy mix, compared to the 50 percent about five years ago, which made the production of power on the island more vulnerable to environmental disturbances.
“Mindanao also enjoys power surplus averaging 800 megawatts, mostly coming from coal-fired power plants which have recently come online,” the official said.
But Montenegro said, for some electric cooperatives or distribution utilities, the determining factors “as to whether or not El Niño will result to brownouts” would have been the contracted supply portfolio.
“For instance, an electric coop with substantial supply contract from hydro, like Agus-Pulangi and with no financial flexibility to contract non-hydro sources in the interim, will likely be affected with El Niño-induced reduced output from hydropower plants,” he said.
Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) reported at least 17 provinces in Mindanao would be hit by the dry spell, and 11 provinces the drought beginning end of April.
The dry spell would hit Bukidnon, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Oriental, Compostela Valley, Davao City, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao Occidental, Davao Oriental, North Cotabato, Saranga Agusan Del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur, Basilan, and Lanao del Sur.
The provinces that would be affected by drought are Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Misamis Occidental, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte, Maguindanao, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.
The Mindanao provinces will be under normal rainfall condition next month. Except for Misamis Occidental and Dinagat Island provinces, the Mindanao regions will receive near-normal rainfall conditions by May.
According to PAGASA, dry spell occurs when there are three consecutive months of below-normal rainfall conditions or two consecutive months of way below normal rainfall conditions while drought when there are three consecutive months of way below normal rainfall or five consecutive months of below-normal rainfall conditions.