Nuke to go?

Author’s note: Hello everyone! This post was due April 19, but because the connection at home wasn’t repaired immediately, I could only post this now.

In the recently concluded Mindanao Power Summit in Davao City April 13, President Benigno Aquino III  said in front of Mindanao politicians that the national government has plans to introduce modern nuclear energy in Mindanao, as an immediate solution to address the power crisis that Mindanao is experiencing.

Power shortage

As of April 19, the Mindanao Grid has a power load of 955 MW, 276 MW short from the needed power at a maximum of 1,231 MW.

NGCP Power Outlook for April 19, 2012
Source: National Grid Corporation of the Philippines website

Source mix

It is known that more than 50% of the Mindanao power supply comes from hydro power plants, with Pulangi and Agus rivers as the biggest contributors to the supply.

Mindanao Generation Mix table located on NGCP's website shows that more than half of the island is powered by hydro power plants. As of April 23, 2012

This means that if big hydro power plants won’t function or at least produce electricity in its maximum capacity, we could be short from 200 to 400 megawatts, enough to interrupt power supply in major cities such as Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, General Santos, Butuan, Zamboanga and more.

Plant privatization

The National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR), the government agency in charge of handling power generating facilities, have announced way back that they will soon privatize the Agus and Pulangi Hydro power plants, which are now functioning in a reduced capacity. The agency said that when these plants are operated by private corporations, they [power plants] could generate more power, even attain its peak generation capacity.

However, Mindanao stakeholders, more specifically lobbyists and politicians are not in favor of privatizing these 2 plants. They have said that it would cost Mindanaoans more than the present rates, which removes the competitive edge of the island to lure more investors here.

Nuke to go?

The government had raised this option as the best long-term solution to the looming power crisis in the island. As far as I can rightly interpret their statements, they are presenting this as their long-term solution because of the environmentalists’ and the townsfolk’s rejection of (1) additional coal power plants aside from those approved  to operate after their completion in 2014; and (2) transfer of power barges operated by Aboitiz subsidiary Therma Marine from Luzon to Mindanao.

This may sound a good proposal from the government, but environmentalists and Mindanaoans are concerned about its health risks to the community. They have expressed fears that when maintained by a private entity, it could be out of government’s control and mismanagement may cause disaster, a disaster similar to the radiation leak in Fukushima, Japan after the earthquake and tsunami that hit the country.

Conclusions

Well, I cannot personally conclude about the issue as of the moment, and I am not so sure about the government’s other plans to address the power crisis. What we could do is to be more vigilant in the issues that go with the problem; be involved and tell everyone that as a stakeholder of Mindanao, we are bound for our right to be heard.

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Posted on April 23, 2012, in Blog, Editorial and Opinion and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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