Thursday, February 18, 2010

Zamboanga plans to put up fossil-fuel power station

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Feb. 18, 2010) – The local electric cooperative said Thursday there is a plan to put up a coal-fired power plant to augment the increasing power requirement in Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines.

Betty Marquez, a spokeswoman for the Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative, said there are proposals to put up a fossil-fuel power station here because of the increased demand for electricity.

“There is a need to have an alternative source of electric power,” she told the Mindanao Examiner.

Coal-fired units produce electricity by burning coal in a boiler to heat water to produce steam. The steam, at tremendous pressure, flows into a turbine, which spins a generator to produce electricity. The steam is cooled, condensed back into water, and returned to the boiler to start the process over. But environmentalists say the coal-fueled plants will pollute the air and contribute to global warming.

There are at least 9 coal-fired power plants in the country – six in Luzon Island, two in the Visayas in central Philippines and one in Mindanao in the southern Philippines.

Marquez said the daily power consumption of Zamboanga City is about 78 megawatts and at present the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines has been supplying only half of the total requirements of the local electric cooperative because of the El Nino weather phenomenon which is affecting the whole country.

“The El Nino is really affecting us all, not only the local electric cooperative, but many power providers, and even the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines which is supplying at least eight others electric cooperatives in Mindanao,” Marquez said.

The abnormal weather pattern also called El Nino-Southern Oscillation occurs across the tropical Pacific Ocean on average every five years, but over a period which varies from three to seven years. El Nino is associated with floods, droughts and other weather disturbances in many regions of the world, which vary with each event.

The Philippines like any other developing countries dependent upon agriculture and fishing, particularly those bordering the Pacific Ocean, are the most affected.

Marquez said the low water level at Lake Lanao is also aggravating the supply of electricity in Mindanao because it affects the hydropower plant in Iligan City.

“Right now, all we can say to everybody is to conserve electricity and wait for the rains to come,” she said, adding, the dry spell is expected to last until June.

Of Zamboanga City’s 98 villages, at least 90 percent have rotational blackout lasting from one hour to as long as two hours every day, she said.

“The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines simply cannot cope up with the power demands,” Marquez said.

Incorporated in 2008, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines won in the bidding for the franchise to operate and maintain the country’s transmission network - the National Transmission Corporation – the biggest government auction conducted in efforts to reform the local power sector.

The fifty-year franchise provides National Grid Corporation of the Philippines with the right to operate, maintain, expand and further develop the country’s power transmission system which as of end-2008 involved 19,778 circuit kilometers of transmission lines and 24,214 MVA of substation capacity.

As the system operator of the power grid, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines balances the demand and supply of electricity to efficiently serve all of its customers which include generators, private distribution utilities, electric cooperatives, government-owned utilities, economic zones, industries, and directly connected companies. (Mindanao Examiner)

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