Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Pantabangan Dam nearing critical level, power cut-off looms in CL

CABANATUAN CITY, Nueva Ecija – Water level at the Pantabangan Dam yesterday fell below 180 meters, nearing critical level as low water threatens to cut off generation of power in the Luzon Grid operated by the National Grid Corporation of the Philipines.

          Engineer Josephine Salazar, operations manager of the Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation Systems which operates the dam said that as of 12 noon yesterday, water level at the dam was at 179.29 meters, down from 179.52 meters Tuesday.

          Yesterday’s elevation was just 7.79 meters higher than the critical level of 171.5 meters and just 2.29 meters above the minimum power generation level of the First Gen Corp.  which power plant generates  electricity to NGCP which transmits the same to distribution utilities.

          Last June 1, the dam’s level was at 182.35 meters.

          The low water level is expected to affect the cities of Munoz and San Jose and the towns of Guimba, Licab, Quezon  and Talavera and Victoria, Tarlac.       

          The dam has a volume of active storage of 163.1556 million cubic meters, down from 168.9539 mcm Tuesday.

          Salazar said they expect the water level to go down to 177 up to the end of this month.

“Based on our projection, it will hit 177 meters. But by the first week of July, we will meet the irrigation requirements so we will again close the intake gate,” she said, adding they see no problem when it comes to irrigation but the problem will come in the area of power generation.

          Salazar added that they are planning to undertake cloud-seeding operations in the affected areas.

           For over a month, UPRIIS cut off irrigation supply to some 100,000 hectares of agricultural lands in Central Luzon and resumed releasing water to its service areas beginning May 30 at the onset of the wet cropping season. UPRIIS has programmed for irrigation 114,026 hectares for the twin cropping seasons, up by 2,772 hectares from last year’s 111, 254 hectares.

Cristino Castillo, chief of  the UPRIIS’ dam and reservoir division, said that they released water at a rate of 80 cubic meters per second, up from 60 cms at the start of this month.

Richard Dipontorum, FGC plant manager, said at present, their power plant generates 60 megawatts of electricity, half of its maximum power-generating capacity of 120 megawatts. (Manny Galvez)

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