The Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines would be tapped to extend loans to two electric distributors in Mindanao to enable them to rent two 30-megawatt (MW) generators from foreign providers.

Also this week, an interagency meeting on energy crisis in Cagayan de Oro City would look at the poor watershed management in and around Lake Lanao, the main source of hydroelectric power in Mindanao, after officials said that water wastage has worsened the occurrence of El Niño.

The two government financial institutions have been asked by Malacañang to take care of the loan requirement of South Cotabato Electric Cooperative II and the Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative after an energy meeting in Malacañang with the Mindanao Electric Power Alliance (Mepa) came out with the option to rent powerful generator sets.

Jesus Dureza, chairman of the Mindanao Development Authority told reporters here on Thursday that the two electric distributors would need no less than P800 million, the amount estimated to cost them to rent one 30-MW unit.

Vicente Lao, president of the Mindanao Business Council and Mepa convener, earlier said the power distributors would rent the generator sets from prospective companies in South Korea, Singapore and even from mainland China.

Lao said  renting generator sets was decided in favor of the other option of contracting an emergency power provider, which Palawan and Panay did in 2004. The two islands contracted a European company with an office in Singapore.

Another electric distributor, the Cagayan de Oro City Electric Power and Light Co. (Cepalco), said it needed a power barge.  A power barge has a capacity of 100 MW.  Two of them were stationed in Butuan Bay in Nasipit, Agusan del Norte, and in Maco Bay in Maco, Compostela Valley.

But acquiring them would also need a restructuring of the power rate from consumers in their respective franchise area, Dureza said, “but the companies assured us that it would not be too big an addition to their regular payment.”

“The ERC [Energy Regulatory Commission] would be holding a public hearing soon,” he said.

Dureza said he has already called for an interagency meeting in Cagayan de Oro City to discuss the watershed management in and around Lake Lanao, the country’s second- largest inland water body, and where the Mindanao grid derives more than 50 percent of its electricity source.

“There are clearings in the area and it’s obvious that there are illegal logging,” he said. “It’s not only El Niño that is the problem here, but also the poor management of the watershed, the effect of denudation.”

He said  he and Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales flew around Lake Lanao and the Pulangi River complex in Bukidnon on March 23 in an inspection tour.

In an earlier interview with reporters in Davao City, Lao said, “We found that Lake Lanao badly needs serious watershed management as a long-term solution to retain and avoid wastage of water in the lake.”

Dureza said initial feedback from the Lake Lanao and the Pulangi River complex indicated that “the receding of the water level by about 1 centimeter every two days has been arrested with the intermittent rains.”

The rains have been brought by the low pressure in the Pacific since last week.

National Power Corp. is extracting an average of 1 centimeter per day of water at Lake Lanao to run the turbines of its six power plants along the stretch of the Agus River, where Lake Lanao drains its water.

Written by Manuel T. Cayon / Reporter? – Business Mirror

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