No rotating blackouts in Luzon

by Neil Jerome C. Morales, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jun 23 2012 08:11 AM | Updated as of Jun 23 2012 10:56 PM

MANILA, Philippines - No rotating blackouts hit Luzon yesterday despite thin supply due to low output of key power plants, an official of the Department of Energy (DOE) said.

The “yellow alert” status is expected to remain until next week, but rotating blackouts are not expected through the weekend.

“Supply was thin and projected demand was high but it did not result in brownouts,” Energy Undersecretary Josefina Patricia Asirit said. “Actual demand was way lower.”

The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) issued the yellow alert notice yesterday for the Luzon grid, citing reduced power generation.

Hence, rotating outages were expected in parts of Cavite province, Caloocan City, Las Piñas, Pasig and Quezon City in Metro Manila yesterday.

“Available capacity is at 7,727 megawatts (MW) while actual peak demand at 10 a.m. was at 7,300 MW. The unavailability and/or the reduced capability of certain power plants led to a situation where the available reserves were insufficient to meet the grid’s required contingency of 647 MW,” the NGCP said in a statement.

A yellow alert is a system condition where the total of all reserves is less than the capacity of the largest plant online, which for the Luzon grid is 647 MW.

Asirit said the 300-MW Calaca coal-fired power plant in Batangas and the 735-MW Pagbilao coal plant in Quezon province did not produce power yesterday because of preventive maintenance.

Meanwhile, the Tiwi geothermal plant in Albay province suffered from low steam supply while the 600-MW unit of the Sual coal-fired power plant in Pangasinan produced only 400 MW, Asirit said.

NGCP said it is obliged under the law and its franchise to ensure that the grid operates at an optimum level with due consideration for safety, security and reliability.

“NGCP expects the supply situation to normalize once the plants on shutdown or running on limited capabilities are back and synchronized to the grid or once the demand recedes,” the grid operator said.

Any system alert – and the corresponding power curtailment, if any – is lifted once demand recedes or once there is enough available capacity coming into the grid from the power plants.

For the weekends, Asirit said there is ample supply given historically lower demand during Saturdays and Sundays.

Asirit, however, said the yellow alert might carry over to next week.

In the worst case, the government can require the operation of the Malaya power plant and order distribution firms to buy costlier power from the spot market, Asirit said.

On June 9, the NGCP asked Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), the country’s largest power distributor, to implement a three-hour rotating power interruption from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. due to low supply in the Luzon grid.

Affected areas were portions of Balintawak, Sta. Mesa, Sampaloc, Novaliches and Bulacan, the Energy department said. – With Jess Diaz