Mindanao’s energy cooperatives need support to develop and stabilize their services
Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) says Mindanao’s ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES (ECs) need more support to serve more households and cope with continued brownouts in parts of the southern islands despite an average surplus of 1,000 megawatts (MW) on the network.
Many regions are still “facing the grim reality that even with the oversupply of over 1000 MW … there are rotating brownouts,” said MinDA Deputy Executive Director Romeo M. Montenegro, during the Mindanao Power Forum 2021 which took place almost last week.
Mindanao has an available capacity of around 2,700 MW with peak demand ranging from 1,700 to just over 2,000 MW per day, according to first quarter data from the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP).
“The areas that are currently experiencing problems with electricity availability may be due to the need for support from the EC… they need to be assisted and focus on the way forward,” said Montenegro, who also heads the group. of the Mindanao Power Inter-Agency Monitoring Committee.
There are 39 ECs operating in Mindanao, of which 34 are connected to the main grid.
Mr. Montenegro noted that these cooperatives have varying levels of financial and managerial capacity and face geographic and political challenges.
Sixteen of these electricity distributors are among the top 20 nationwide with the lowest coverage rate in proportion to potential connections.
The first five are located in the island provinces of Sulu and Tawi, and Maguindanao and Lanao del Sur on the mainland. All of them are in the Bangsamoro region.
The MinDA official said assisting these cooperatives would require “innovative financing” opportunities, among other support programs.
He said the National Electrification Administration, which oversees the EC, and the Department of Energy can design appropriate funding windows to be opened by government financial institutions.
MinDA also calls for the creation of the Consultative Group on Local Energy Development to improve coordination between electricity sector actors and local government units for targeted solutions to specific community conditions.
Strengthening the EC, Montenegro said, is particularly crucial at this point, as the wholesale electricity market in Mindanao is expected to finally open by June 26, about four years after its launch.
NGCP is also expected to complete the Visayas-Mindanao interconnection project within the year, which will place Mindanao’s supply on the national grid.
The Energy Department’s Mindanao 2018-2040 energy plan aims to achieve 100% electrification in the south by 2030 from the current level of 70%. It projects a demand of more than 10,000 MW by 2040.
Mr. Montenegro said that strengthening ECs is essential to energize Mindanao, especially rural areas where the average electrification coverage is even lower, at around 30%.
“We have to see how we can work collectively to ensure that everyone is moving in the same direction, at the same pace and enjoying the same benefits.” – Marifi S. Jara