Brownouts in Mindanao to continue - DOE

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 28 2014 06:13 PM | Updated as of Mar 01 2014 02:26 AM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - Mindanao may continue to face two to three-hour brownouts, as the Steag State Power Inc.'s (SPI) 210-MW coal-fired power plant remains offline from the Mindanao grid, according to Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla.

This after parts of Mindanao suffered a blackout on Thursday. All power plants, except Steag, are back to normal operations. This caused a 210-MW deficiency, which might translate to rotating brownouts of up to five hours.

"What will happen if Steag will continue to go offline during summer? I don't that will happen at this point but they can't give a definite answer when it's up and running. We're not talking about months. I think they are getting some consultants at this point," Petilla said in a press conference.

Officials of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines and National Transmission Corp. also said without the Steag plant, Mindanao will continue to suffer brownouts.

In its report, SPI said the Steag power plant encountered "technical problems" in the turbine generator. It has yet to set a target date for the full restoration of the facility.

SPI President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Bodo Goerlich said the company is working hard to restore the power plant back to the Mindanao grid. "We have mobilized all our resources to restore the units back on line," he said.

Meanwhile, the initial investigation of the Department of Energy and other agencies showed that the Mindanao blackout started from the Agus 1 hydro electric plant in Lanao, which then cascaded to four other plants.

The suspected cause of the region wide blackout was equipment failure at a high-voltage switchyard that utility officials said is about 26 years old.

"Some of these are really old equipment, probably older than you," Petilla said.

The breakdown triggered the automatic shutdown of a nearby government-owned hydro power plant that draws its power from a dam, and unleashed a cascading effect on other power plants across the region, utility officials said.

It was the first time in 12 years that the region had suffered a total outage, though partial outages had occurred in between, Petilla said.

The authorities are now investigating the breakdown, which meant the power plant nearest the original failure had to be temporarily shut down, he added.

But the operators of the Agus 1 hydro electric plant is opposing this theory.

Officials of the National Power Corp.'s Mindanao generation say their generating units are in good condition.

The DOE, however, feels that the age of the plants may be a factor as well.

A deeper investigation is being conducted to determine if there are liable individuals for the blackout. - from a report by Zen Hernandez, ABS-CBN News and Agence France-Presse