Occidental Mindoro power crisis: Is it over?

The power crisis in Occidental Mindoro, is it finally over?

Three power stations, owned by the Occidental Mindoro Consolidated Power Corporation (OMCPC), are currently operating at full capacity to ease blackouts plaguing Occidental Mindoro, said the National Electrification Administration (NEA) in a report released by the Malacañang Palace on Friday, April 28.

NEA Administrator Antonio Mariano Almeda said the stations can supply about 30 to 32 megawatts of electricity to power distributor Occidental Mindoro Electric Cooperative (Ormeco).

Almeda said that should significantly lessen, if not completely eliminate, blackouts in Occidental Mindoro. Since April 15, the province has been gripped by power outages lasting up to 20 hours per day.

On April 27, Almeda met with Luis Manuel Banzon, owner of OMPC, to discuss possible measures to remedy the power crisis.

During the meeting, both parties agreed to run the three power stations of OMCPC–the Sablayan area with a capacity of 5 MW, Mamburao, Paluan, Sta. Cruz, and Abra de Ilog (MAPSA) with a capacity of 7 MW, and San Jose, Magsaysay, Rizal, Calitaan (SAMARICA) with a capacity of 20 MW.

NEA noted that the peak demand for electricity of Omeco is 29 to 30 MW.

Since the three stations started running, there have been no reports of blackouts in Occidental Mindoro, according to the NEA.

It added that the three power plants OMCPC are covered by Power Supply Agreements (PSAs) with Omeco. The Sablayan and MAPSA PSAs were provisionally approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), while OMCPC’s application for the SAMARICA PSA is still under processing by OMCPC.

Until recently, OMCPC was only operating the SAMARICA power plant at a capacity of about 7.5 MW without running its Sablayan and MAPSA power plants.

After the meeting, it was determined that the reason for not running the Sablayan and MAPSA power plants was due to the issue of whether OMCPC’s fuel cost is a pass-through cost.

Upon the orders of the NEA administrator, OMCPC agreed to run its three power facilities regardless of any potential financial losses to Banzon, and despite not having an approved rate from the ERC for the SAMARICA power plant which would allow him to recoup his cost of operations.

Almeda emphasized that the power crisis has greatly and adversely affected the province’s basic services, such as its public hospitals, placing lives at risk.

At the meeting, Almeda instructed OMCPC to operate its three power facilities, despite the potential financial losses.

Although the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has not yet approved the rate for the SAMARICA power plant, OMCPC agreed to run its power stations 24/7 to address the power crisis in the province.

Before requesting that OMCPC operate its power stations, Almeda sought the clearance of Department of Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla, who approved the arrangement.

At first, the owner of OMCPC, Luis Manuel Banzon, was hesitant to operate the power plants due to the expected financial losses. However, he eventually agreed to help provide electricity to the residents of the province.

In light of the changes in the NEA’s action plan, the Lease and Operate Agreement (LOA) with Power Systems Inc. (PSI) for the operation of the latter’s 5MW power plant in the province will continue, but only in reserve capacity.

Additionally, the intended Emergency Power Supply Agreement (EPSA) with DMCI Power Corporation will not proceed, and the modular generators intended for public schools and hospitals will be kept in the province in case of future power shortages.

MORE: Occidental Mindoro placed under state of calamity due to worsening power crisis

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