Meralco: No guarantees of brownout-free summer

By Alvin Elchico, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 02 2015 03:55 PM | Updated as of Mar 03 2015 01:09 AM

MANILA – The Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) cannot guarantee a brownout-free summer even with the interruptible load program (ILP) working to ease the expected power supply shortfall.

The distribution utility said it relies on available supply and as long as there is adequate electricity, there will be no brownouts.

Meralco said that as of last week's dry run, there were around 457 megawatts deloaded from the Meralco grid with 216 participants of the ILP.

The total accounts that signified intention to participate is 322 but only 67 percent joined the dry run.

Meralco head for utility Larry Fernandez said in case of deficiency that cannot be covered by the ILP, Meralco will be forced to go into manual load dropping, which means rotating brownouts in its franchise areas.

On Friday, two power plants went on emergency shutdown and Meralco was forced to do automatic load dropping to stabilize the system.

The load dropping resulted into a power outage of less than 1 hour for 796,000 customers.

At past 6 p.m. Friday, another plant went on emergency shutdown, which also resulted in an automatic load drop that affected 129,000 customers who experienced a six-minute power interruption.

Malampaya shutdown

The shutdown of the Malampaya facility, which is scheduled from March 15 to April 14, will further shave 420 megawatts from the grid.

The two plants running on natural gas, Sta. Rita and San Lorenzo, will still produce 1,500 MW using liquid condensate while the 2 units of Ilijan will only produce 780 MW instead of the 1,200 MW it normally generates using natural gas.

Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali, chairman of the House energy panel, said he will insist on the House version of the emergency power bill where the additional expenses in the use of the ILP will be charged to the Malampaya fund.

"Kaysa gamitin kung saan-saan, the best way is to use the Malampaya fund...It is government's responsibility, the people had nothing to do with it," Umali said when asked if indeed the Malampaya fund will be used to shield consumers from potential price spikes.

The Senate is expected to pass their version of the emergency bill but it wants all consumers to pay and not charge it to the Malampaya fund.

It will then be debated in the bicameral session before it is brought back to their respective houses for the final deliberations prior to its submission to Malacanang for signing of the President.