Legarda: Mindanao power crisis needs long-term solutions

April 10, 2013

Sen. Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change, today reiterated that the Mindanao power situation is in dire need of long-term and sustainable solutions as the island can no longer rely solely on hydropower for its electricity needs.

“Mindanao is heavily dependent on hydropower for its electricity requirements with 70% being sourced from hydro facilities, including the Agus and Pulangui hydropower plants. This cannot be sustained in the face of the worsening deforestation of watersheds, the siltation of river systems, and aging power facilities. The summer heat can only worsen the situation,” Legarda said.

She said the acquisition by the government of modular generator sets to offset the supply deficit is a short-term solution. The power deficit in Mindanao is at 300 megawatts, resulting in rotating brownouts.

“We have to look at how we can best maximize the capacities of the government’s remaining assets in Mindanao, including Agus and Pulangi hydropower plants. We need to stop the intentional decay of these facilities only for government to sell them at a “give-away” rate to the private sector,” Legarda stressed.

One long term solution, the senator said, is tapping renewable energy. “Mindanao has an agriculture-intensive economy. We need to be able to harness the agricultural wastes of Mindanao to fuel biomass facilities. Hydropower, geothermal, biomass are now competitive with the cost of conventional energy sources. They are undoubtedly cheaper than the diesel-fired power facilities and the power barges that the government will be mobilizing in the interim to address the power woes of Mindanao.”

Earlier, Legarda has pushed for the approval of her bill establishing an effective policy and regulatory administration over Lake Lanao through the proposed Lake Lanao Development Authority.

The proposed authority would ensure the promotion and development of Lake Lanao in a sustainable manner. Legarda said the worsening deforestation of watersheds, including those located in Lake Lanao, and the siltation of river systems are among the reasons the power supply in the island has become erratic.

She said the continued deterioration of Lake Lanao has affected the supply of water from the lake for six of Mindanao’s existing hydroelectric power plants, including Agus.