QUEZON CITY Philippines — The Philippine government expects to sign a contract to supply power generators and fuel with the Northern Mariana Islands by the end of August.

National Power Corp. the Philippines’ biggest power supplier said it can help Saipan the capital of the NMI by moving some of its generating sets to the main island which hosts some 20 000 Filipino workers. Generating sets are power engines that provide electricity to various parts of the country that are not connected to the main grid. 

“We are exploring the possibility of providing power services to Saipan. We’d like to help after all there are a lot of OFWs (overseas Filipino workers) there and it’s very near ” Cyril del Callar president of Napocor said.

The NMI is currently suffering a major energy crisis due to its inadequate power infrastructure facilities and rising costs of crude oil in the world market. Due to the power crisis its citizens are facing the possibility of higher power rates.

“I expect to sign the deal within the month ” Del Callar told the Journal. The Philippines will benefit from the arrangement because NMI will pay for the generating sets and the shipment to the island.

Del Callar and Guillermo Balce undersecretary of the Department of Energy met with Gov. Benigno R. Fitial and other NMI officials last July 17 in Manila for the possible power supply arrangement.

Fitial also met with Eduardo Chua country chairman of Shell Philippines which has expressed keen interest to supply not only the fuel required for the power plants but also aviation fuel for the NMI. Guam and the NMI fall under the jurisdiction of Shell Philippines. Chua is expected to visit Saipan this month.

The Napocor chief said the Philippines can ship four or five generating sets to Saipan. However he said it would be difficult to move any of the country’s power barges to the island because these are connected to the main power grid.

In the meeting held at the energy office in Fort Bonifacio in Taguig City Philippine officials said the best solution is to move four or five of Napocor’s 16-megawatt generating sets to Saipan which can provide a total of 60 to 70 megawatts in additional power supply. Del Callar also offered to include in the package the fuel component of the emergency power plants.

He said Napocor is now weighing the advantages and disadvantages of the power supply arrangement to be able to finalize the deal within the next 30 days.

Napocor officials also met with Anthony Guerrero acting director of the Commonwealth Utilities Corp.; to study the proposed alternatives to come up with the best option for Saipan.

On July 17 Fitial said “We are seriously and thoroughly studying these short-term solutions in view of the current power situation. We require immediate relief from the daily power outages. This is our immediate priority.  The long-term solution will require a longer time frame to resolve but will somehow have to be tied in to the short-term solution.MBJ