Talks ongoing to delay plant outages this summer

by Jon Carlos Rodriguez, ABS-CBNnews.com

Posted at Mar 10 2014 01:20 PM | Updated as of Mar 10 2014 09:20 PM

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Energy (DOE) is still negotiating with two power plants supplying power to the Luzon and Visayas grids if it can postpone scheduled maintenance shutdowns this summer.

Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla said the owners of the Ilijan power plant in Batangas and the Pagbilao power plant in Quezon have already asked permission from the DOE and the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) if they can push through with the maintenance shutdown.

However, Petilla said the shutdown of the plants will only be approved if a study will show that delaying it will pose bigger problems in the future.

“Matagal ko na sinasabi ito na kung pu-pwede, walang magme-maintenance (shutdown) tuwing summer kasi mataas ang demand natin. Ito’y mangyayari lang kung hindi talaga maiwasan. Kumbaga, mas malaki ang aabutin na sira in the future kapag hindi in-address ngayon. So we are still negotiating with them kung pwede ma-move ito at kung wala na ba talagang choice,” he told dzMM on Monday.

The 600-megawatt Ilijan power plant is scheduled for maintenance shutdown in March, which may last less than 30 days.

The 735-megawatt Pagbilao coal plant, on the other hand, is scheduled for a 30-day maintenance shutdown starting April 10.

Petilla assured the public that there will be enough supply despite the high demand during summer, but noting that the supply will be “tight.”

“Kung mayroong maintenance, hindi natin basta-basta pinapayagan kasi tinitignan natin na kahit nag-maintenance ang planta ay meron tayong sapat na capacity for the entire grid. So far, sa maintenance ng dalawang planta na ito, meron naman tayong sapat even if these two go into maintenance. Ang sinasabi lang ng Meralco, ay magiging tight lang ang supply natin,” he said.

Petilla earlier warned that the Luzon grid is likely going to be on "yellow alert," which means if a major power plant bogs down, there will be rotating power interruptions because the reserves are thin.

Based on DOE's data, the projected demand for Luzon this summer will reach nearly 10,300 megawatts, while supply is projected at 10,500 megawatts.