Meralco users suffer brownouts

Customers of Manila Electric Co. experienced rotating outages starting at 1 p.m. Wednesday as some power plants remained offline due to the earthquake that hit Luzon on Monday and maintenance work.

The Department of Energy reported a manual load drop of 371 megawatts in the Luzon grid representing about 3.5 percent of the entire demand of 10,684 MW.

Meralco said affected areas in its franchise area includes parts of Sto. Tomas, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Taytay, San Pablo City, Las Piñas, Makati City, Wack-Wack Greenhills East, Binondo, Sampaloc, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Parañaque City, Pasig City, Pateros, Quezon City, Taguig City, Quezon Province, Lucena City Domoit, Gulang-Gulang, Ibabang Dupay and Lucena City.

The brownouts occurred from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday but grid operator National Grid Corporation of the Philippines raised the red alert status for the Luzon grid from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. due to insufficient generating capacity.

It raised the yellow alert status, which signaled that power reserves have become thin from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.

DOE said that as of 11:30 a.m., a total of 1,577 megawatts of installed capacity was down from the following power plants: GN Power Mariveles Coal Power Plant (GMPC) Units 1 and 2 (690 MW) and SMC Consolidated Power Corporation (SCPC) Limay Coal Units 1 and 2 (300 MW), going offline due to the Monday’s quake.

The one unit of the Mariveles coal plant was expected to be back online Wednesday while the other unit has yet to be restored. The SCPC coal plants are expected to come online from April 25 to 27.

The Pagbilao Unit 3 of Pagbilao Energy Corp. has only declared 133 MW or 32 percent of its 420 MW total installed capacity due to an ongoing assessment of the condition of their boiler.

The Sem-Calaca coal plant remains derated to 200 MW from 300 MW due to “half condenser operation” while the Malaya unit 1 was running at 150 MW only from 300 MW.

DOE said a total of 248.88 MW of power has been committed by interruptible load participants which will allow the plants to operate their generating sets as support to the limited power supply.

NGCP, for its part, announced that the manual load drop may also be implemented in areas outside of Meralco’s franchise area, including parts of Isabela, Pampanga, Batangas and Camarines Sur.

Other areas that may be affected are Quezon, Albay, Nueva Ecija, Camarines Norte, and Cabanatuan City.

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi apologized for the inconvenience caused by the outages in parts of Luzon from April 11 to 12.

“Based on the figures, we were supposed to have sufficient power supply that week. Regrettably, what could not have been forecast were the simultaneous unplanned outages of several power plants,” Cusi said.

Despite having an excess of 1,131MW over peak demand, the unforeseen shutdowns of several plants at the same time resulted in 1,502MW loss of available capacity, the Energy chief said.

“While we are currently investigating the matter, it is highly inappropriate for us to comment, make assumptions or speculate on the causes of what we think is an extraordinary occurrence,” Cusi said.

“The entire industry must share collective responsibility over what happened. This includes the Department of Energy (DOE), the NGCP, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), the distribution utilities (DU), and the generating companies,” he said. With Darwin G. Amojelar, PNA

Cusi said there are no quick fixes to such incidents but DOE is continuously finding ways to prevent the outages from happening again.

“To have more reserves, the DOE is working closely with the ERC to ensure that NGCP complies with their concession agreement and the power reserve requirements under the Grid Code,” he said.

He said that aside from speeding up the approval of new power plants, DOE is closely monitoring the construction of transmission lines, critical in ensuring power reliability.

Power transmission has been restored in areas covered by the Samar I Electric Cooperative (SAMELCO I) as of 6 p.m. Tuesday, a few hours after a magnitude 6.5 earthquake hit Eastern Samar at around 1.37 p.m.

“Restoration of power transmission services in the remaining parts of Eastern Samar, served by ESAMELCO [Eastern Samar Electric Cooperative, Inc.], is ongoing,” the NGCP said in an advisory Wednesday.

Aside from the ESAMELCO-covered areas, the quake also resulted in power interruptions in the franchise areas of the Northern Samar Electric Cooperative Inc. (NORSAMELCO) and Samar I Electric Cooperative City (SAMELCO I), particularly Calbayog City.

The earthquake in Eastern Samar happened less than 24 hours after a 6.1-magnitude earthquake hit Castillejos, Zambales past 5 p.m. Monday and jolted Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

The Department of Energy said that as of 2:45 p.m. on Tuesday, 98.5 percent of power in areas being serviced by the Pampanga Electric Cooperative II (PELCO II) had been restored.

“The remaining 1.5 percent covers around 2,300 households in the municipalities of Guagua, Lubao, and Porac,” it said.

“While the rest of Luzon has already been reenergized, PELCO II is targeting the full restoration of power in its service area by tomorrow morning,” it added.

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines said it would resume its flight operations at the Clark International Airport in Pampanga starting Thursday.

This developed shortly after the Clark International Airport Corp. decided to reopen the facility for full normal operations following a three-day closure due to the 6.1-magnitude quake on Monday.

Commercial flight operations in Clark were temporarily suspended after it sustained damage, primarily to its Control Tower and the old passenger terminal building.

But no damage was reported on the airport’s runway and taxiway. The new Clark Airport terminal, which is currently undergoing construction, also remained safe from damage.

Airport authorities said the damage has been repaired.

In Manila, Cebu Pacific Air canceled 24 domestic flights scheduled on Wednesday, citing “operational limitations.”

Those cancelled at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport were flights to and from Puerto Princesa, Bacolod, Dumaguete, Roxas, Legazpi, Caticlan, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Iloilo, Butuan, and Tacloban.

“We apologize for this inconvenience. Rest assured, we are working towards recovery of our operations as soon as possible. Affected passengers are being notified via email or text message,” CEB chief information officer Charo Logarta-Lagamon.

Manila International Airport Authority general manager Edddie Monreal earlier warned airline companies not to take advantage of Monday’s earthquake to arbitrarily delay or cancel flights. With Darwin G. Amojelar and PNA

READ: Energy probes brownouts

READ: ‘Rotational brownouts’ amid hot summer days

READ: PCC investigates power outages, plant shutdowns

Topics: Manila Electric Co. , Department of Energy , National Grid Corporation of the Philippines
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