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Energy probes brownouts

Vows to elevate findings to Palace, lawmakers

The Department of Energy on Monday said it would elevate to Malacañang the findings of its investigation into a spate of yellow and red alerts that culminated in three-hour rotating power outages last week.

Energy probes brownouts
DOWN DEPTHS OF DARKNESS. The sun goes down slowly, if reluctantly, recently into the eerie depths of the Caraballo Mountains, a range in the central part of Luzon between Cordillera Central and Sierra Madre mountain ranges which serve as the site of the headwaters of the Cagayan River, the longest in the country, forcing some parts of Santiago City in Isabela to suffer rotating brownouts, with the National Power Corp.-Luzon Grid piteously helpless. Ben Moses Ebreo
“All the information that we will get, we will give it to ERC [Energy Regulatory Commission], PCC [Philippine Competition Commission], Congress, [and] most especially the President,” said Energy Undersecretary Felix Fuentebella. “At the end of the day, we will remain answerable to all these and we will try to leave you with as many updates, as transparent and as timely as we can.”

Fuentebella said the root cause of the yellow and red alerts was the forced outage of power plants that reached as high as 1,500 megawatts.

This, coupled with the maintenance shutdown of power plants with a combined capacity of 827 MW and the derated power plants with a capacity of over 100 MW, resulted in a supply shortage.

“That’s a very high number, caused by forced outage. 2,500 MW can power the entire Mindanao grid,” Fuentebella said.

DOE has already directed the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines to look into the movement of prices at the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market, the country’s trading floor for electricity.

Fuentebella said the DOE understands the plight of consumers and said it is “working doubly hard” to deliver their power requirements.

To ensure adequate power during the May elections, the DOE is also pushing for the entry of additional power plants, such as those from Therma Mobile Inc. and Millenium Energy.

Grid operator National Grid Corporation of the Philippines issued a yellow alert from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. while it raised the red alert from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Monday. The red alert was lifted at 3:10 p.m. and no manual load dropping was implemented due to lower demand.

READ: Power supply thin—NGCP

Fuentebella also said power supply will likely improve during the Holy Week due to low demand and the return of power plants that went offline.

Based on data from DOE, Limay 2 (150 MW) and Pagbilao 3 (420 MW) will be back online on April 16, Sual 1 (647 MW) on April 18 and SLPGC 2 (150 MW) on April 21.

Fuentebella also said the agency is looking at invoking Section 23 of the DOE Act to help speed up the approval of pending power supply agreements as part of long-term solutions toward energy security.

The power generators are waiting for approval of their PSAs pending with the ERC to start building their power plants.

On Monday, the department said there could still be power interruptions after yellow and red alerts were issued for the Luzon grid, and as power remains thin due to non-functioning units of several power plants.

The NGCP said the yellow alert was up from 9 a.m-1 p.m., 4 p.m.-5 p.m., and 6 p.m.-8 p.m., while the red alert covered 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Available capacity for the day was at 10,669 megawatts while peak demand was projected at 10,619 MW.

The DOE said a yellow alert does not result in power interruptions, but power outages from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. were still possible depending on system conditions.

Four power plants have units that are on forced outages to date, it added.

These are the Unit 2 of SMC Consolidated Power Corp. in Limay, Bataan; Unit 1 of Team Energy Corp. in Sual, Pangasinan; Unit 2 of Southwest Luzon Power Generation Corporation in Calaca, Batangas; and Unit 3 of Pagbilao Energy Corp. in Quezon province.

There are also two power plants that have de-rated capacity and these are the Unit 1 of Masinloc Power Partners Company Ltd., which originally has a 315-MW capacity but is only able to provide 304 MW due to a still undisclosed problem, and the Unit 2 of SEM Calaca Power Corp. from 300 MW to 200 MW due to half condenser operation.

With the thinning of reserves, the Energy Department said the Interruptible Load Program (ILP) will be implemented from 1:01 p.m. to 4 p.m. “to avert the possibility of power interruption during the red alert status.”

Under ILP, electricity customers with the huge requirement but has power generators are asked to use their units to ensure that overall demand in the system is met.

The power supply shortage has been aggravated by higher demand brought about by high temperatures as a result of the El Niño phenomenon.

In Isabela, agricultural officials said they have received reports that the drought has affected 1.15 hectares of fish ponds in the city and towns of Cabagan, Cordon, and Quirino, causing tilapia fishpond owners to lose about P200,000 as a result of fish kills.

“The hot weather and low water level, both in fishpond and fish cage areas, speed up the decomposition process of organic matter and facilitate the release of harmful gases trapped in the pond or river bottom,” Emerson Tattao, aquaculturist of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources-Cagayan Valley, said to explain the cause of the fish kill. With PNA

READ: NGCP sees power demand hitting new high of 11,403 MW

Topics: Department of Energy , Energy Regulatory Commission , Philippine Competition Commission , Felix Fuentebella
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