DOE, ERC urged to probe unplanned outages in some Luzon power plants

Robie de Guzman   •   April 22, 2021   •   320

MANILA, Philippines — Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Thursday called on the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to look into the reported unplanned outages of some power plants in Luzon that allegedly triggered a spike in consumers’ electricity bills.

Citing data from the Independent Energy Market Operator of the Philippines (IEMOP), Gatchalian said that for the March 2021 billing period, there were 1,580 megawatts (MW) non-coincidental unplanned outages or 61.3% of the total outages.

For the April 2021 billing period but only until April 18, there were 1,428 MW non-coincidental unplanned outages or 62.8% of the total outages, he added.

“Dapat gumalaw dito ang ERC dahil noong November 2020 last year, naglabas sila ng isang polisiya na lahat ng planta ay dapat makapag-deliver batay sa tinatawag na reliability index,” Gatchalian said in a statement.

“Kapag bumagsak sila doon sa polisiya ng ERC at hindi nila ma-justify kung bakit pumalya yung planta, magmumulta sila,” he added.

Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Energy, also urged the DOE to address any logistical issues being faced y some power producers to prevent similar occurences in the coming weeks as the government plans to intensify its COVID-19 vaccination between May and June.

“Hindi dapat tayo magkaroon ng brownouts dahil padating pa ang mga bakuna natin by the end of this month, May, or June at maseselan itong mga vaccines. May iba na kailangan ng almost subzero freezing temperature o mga freezer na kaya ang negative 20 degrees. Kaya kung may brownout tayo, saan natin ilalagay ang mga bakuna natin? Malaking dagok ‘yan sa atin at maaantala ‘yung vaccination process natin,” he said.

The DOE should also address problems in the delivery of spare parts needed by power plants to prevent simultaneous outages, Gatchalian said.

“Dapat ring imbestigahan ng DOE ang ilang alegasyon tungkol sa logistics. Dahil nga pandemya ngayon, hindi dumarating yung mga spare parts, kaya nagkaka-problema sa logistics. Dapat magawan agad ito ng aksyon para hindi sabay-sabay na bumagsak ang mga planta,” he said.

“Dapat gawin ng pamahalaan ang lahat ng makakaya para maiwasan ang brownout. Kaya ang solusyon dito at all cost – dapat yung mga planta huwag bumagsak, huwag silang mag outage.” he added.

No brownouts? DOE expects better power situation during rainy season

Robie de Guzman   •   June 21, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Energy (DOE) has assured residents in Luzon that there is no need to fear power outages on Monday after the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) raised a yellow alert over Luzon grid.

The NGCP on Monday morning placed the Luzon grid under the second highest alert due to reduced net operating margin after the operating requirement stood at 11,344 megawatts (MW) against the available capacity of 11,760 MW.

According to Energy Undersecretary Felix Fuentebella, the yellow alert status was raised after a power plant encountered some problems.

“Meron tayong yellow alert ‘pag nagkakaroon ng manipis, hindi naman siya kulang, pero manipis iyong supply,” he said during the Laging Handa public briefing. “Yellow alert means wala tayong aasahan na rotational brownout or power interruption.”

“We are expecting anytime soon, kung walang madadagdag pang aberya sa ibang planta, all things go well, as planned, mali-lift na po ‘yong yellow alert. So wala tayong masyadong dapat ipangamba,” he added.

The NGCP later lifted the yellow alert “due to sufficient generating capacity.”

Fuentebella said the DOE is expecting a better power situation in the country in the coming weeks due to declining demand amid the rainy season.

“Pababa na po ang demand, ibig sabihin po niyan ay nagkakaroon na ng mas malamig na panahon, medyo cloudy po ngayon kaya mas bumababa po ang paggamit natin ng kuryente,” he said.

“At dahil po diyan ay we anticipate a better scenario for our country and for the power system,” he added.

Earlier this month, parts of Luzon experienced power outages due to a shortage in energy supply after several plants went offline.

The DOE earlier said that Luzon grid might still be placed under yellow or red alert levels until July due to the scheduled maintenance activities of some power plants.

Red alert sa Luzon power grid, posibleng itaas hanggang sa susunod na linggo — DOE

Robie de Guzman   •   June 4, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Posibleng muling ilagay sa red alert status ang Luzon power grid sa susunod na linggo dahil sa problema sa supply ng kuryente.

Sa pagdinig ngayong Biyernes ng House Committee on Energy, sinabi ng Department of Energy (DOE) na maaaring maging mahigpit pa rin ang supply ng kuryente kung hindi pa magbabalik-operasyon ang alinman sa mga plantang nagsagawa ng emergency maintenance.

“Ano naman yung ating nakikita for the next weeks? Yung end of this week hanggang next week, nakikita na kung walang makakapasok na planta, below the red line pa rin tayo,” ang wika ni Energy Undersecretary Mario Marasigan.

“So kulang pa rin yung ating regulating reserves, magkakaroon pa rin tayo ng red alert,” dagdag pa niya.

Bagaman ilalagay sa yellow alert ang power grid, tiniyak naman ng DOE na hindi na magpapatupad ng rotational brownouts.

Noong Mayo 31, at Hunyo 1 hanggang 2 ay isinailalim sa red at yellow alerts ang Luzon power grid dahil sa mataas na demand at mababang power supply.

Paliwanag ni Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, sapat ang supply ng kuryente bago nangyari ang rotational brownout ngunit nagkasabay ang pagtaas ng demand dahil sa mainit na panahon at pagbagsak ng ilang planta.

Aniya, ang iba sa mga planta sa bansa ay luma na ay kailangan na ng madalas na maintenance.

Nakadagdag pa sa delay ng maintenance ng mga planta ang hindi agad pagdating ng spare parts at technical personnel dahil sa pandemya.

“Ito pong pagkawala, the last 2 days ng supply is because po yung pagka sabay-sabay ng pagkasira nung 4 na malalaking planta po. That we lost around 2,000 megawatts,” ang wika ni Cusi.

Samantala, sinabi naman ng Energy Regulatory Commission na pinagpapaliwanag na nito ang nasa 35 generation companies dahil sa pagdami ng unplanned outages mula buwan ng Enero hanggang Abril ngayong taon.

Ayon kay ERC chairperson Agnes Devanadera, 13 sa mga ito ang tumugon sa kanilang direktiba habang ang iba naman ay idinahilan umano ang pagiging luma ng kanilang mga planta at delay sa proseso ng maintenance.

Kasama rin aniya sa iniimbestigahan ng ERC ang posibilidad na sabwatan o pananabotahe sa supply ng kuryente upang pataasin ang presyo nito.

“Kung wala namang maibibigay na ebidensya ay hindi naman namin pwedeng tanggapin yung ganun. So ang nararapat na kaparusahan ay kailangan ipataw naming,” ang wika ni Devanadera.

Sa huling linggo ng Hunyo at sa pagpasok pa ng buwan ng Hulyo inaasahan ng DOE na maibabalik sa normal ang supply ng kuryente kapag nagbalik-operasyon na ang mga nag-shutdown na plant at bumaba na ang konsumo. RRD (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Rey Pelayo)

Energy chief apologizes for Luzon brownouts; says probe on possible collusion underway

Robie de Guzman   •   June 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso Cusi on Thursday apologized for the spate of rotational brownouts that hit parts of Luzon this week.

He assured that the Luzon grid is now in normal system condition and that the current power supply reserves are enough to accommodate the projected demand.

“Normal na po ang supply ng kuryente for today. Ang supply po is more than sufficient to meet the projected demand today,” he said during a Palace media briefing.

“Sa ngayon po, the demand that we projected is at 10,300 megawatts and we have something like 11,600 megawatts of supply. So we have a normal supply today,” he added.

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) first placed the Luzon grid under red and yellow alerts on May 31, and then on June 1 and 2 due to low power supply following planned and unplanned outages of some power plants.

“I apologize for the last 2 days na nagkaroon po ng rotating brownouts. Dahil po ‘yon dahil sa sabay-sabay po na nagkaroon po ng breakdown ng apat na plantang malalaki na ang capacity po is 2,017 megawatts,” he said.

“Malaki po ang nawalang supply sa sistema… kaya ganun po, nagkaroon po tayo ng kakulangan at sa init din po ng panahon, tumaas po ang demand natin to more than 11,000 megawatts,” he added.

Cusi, however, noted that the DOE is still monitoring the condition of four power plants that are still on a forced outage. These power plants have a combined capacity of more than 1,000 megawatts.

In a separate advisory, the DOE said Pagbilao Coal-Fired Power Plant Unit 2 (382 MW) is currently on forced outage since June 2 and is expected to return to service on June 6.

GNPower Mariveles Energy Center (GMEC) Coal-Fired Power Plant Unit 2 (316 MW) is also on forced outage since June 1 and is expected to return to service on June 8.

The GNPower Mariveles Energy Center (GMEC) Coal-Fired Power Plant Unit 1 (316 MW), which is on forced outage since February 6, is expected to return to service on August 31.

The Sem-Calaca Coal-Fired Coal-Fired Power Plant Unit 2 (300 MW), which is currently on forced outage since December 3, 2020, is expected to return to service on July 1.

Cusi said he has ordered an investigation into possible collusion among power plants.

“Pinatitingnan na po natin yan sa ating mga tao, and I have asked also po ang tulong ng ERC at ng Philippine Competition Commission to look into the allegation,” he said.

“Pero habang hindi pa po natatapos ang imbestigasyon, hindi pa po tayo makakapagsabi kung ano ba talaga ang nangyari,” he added.

Some senators have earlier pushed for an inquiry into the recent rotational brownouts.

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