Manila Electric Co., the country’s biggest electricity retailer, has expressed concern over the series of yellow alerts since end August that has been plaguing the Luzon grid, a company executive said Wednesday.
Meralco vice president and head of utility economics Lawrence Fernandez said at the sidelines of the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines forum that yellow alerts were even raised during Saturdays.
“We’re a bit concerned about that. Ever since Aug 30, there was once a week yellow alert. Of the past two Saturdays, there were yellow alerts,” Fernandez said.
System operator National Grid Corp. of the Philippines placed the Luzon grid on yellow alert in three instances (Aug 30, Sept 9, Sept 16).
Fernandez said a yellow alert indicated that reserve was not enough to cover the largest running generating unit at the time.
“In the three instances, the yellow alerts were triggered by forced outages of several large generation facilities. In turn, these (at times) triggered the automatic load dropping scheme of Meralco,” Fernandez said.
“This meant that certain areas in Meralco experienced momentary interruptions to help the grid recover from the generation outages,” he said.
Fernandez attributed the yellow alert occurrence to high demand even during regular weekends and the forced outage of coal-fired power plants.
“Our concern, while so far it did not lead to red alert, when power plants trip, there is automatic load dropping, which means some of the customers lose electric service because of the tripping of some power plants,” he said.
Fernandez added that while over 1,000 MW of power output was added last year, “the rise in demand is soaking up new capacity.”
“Which means we need more and more capacity to be built in the coming months. Reports, for example, that new unit in Quezon will be commissioned, that will help,” he said.
He said while power generation capacity increased last year, demand also soared.
“We were not expecting the growth in demand that we experience this year coming off from 2016 where was El Niño and election year,” he said.
“In the Meralco area alone, electricity consumption had grown almost four percent to-date. This despite having registered a robust growth of 8.1 percent in 2016 due to the effects of El Niño and elections-related spending,” Fernandez said.
He said Meralco’s interruptible load program participants were also advised to prepare for possible de-loading, in case the situation deteriorates.
“In the end, the ILP did not need to be activated in the three instances,” Fernandez said, but warned that yellow alerts and the triggering of the ALD mechanism signalled the need for additional capacity in the Luzon Grid.
“As demand for power continues to increase, additional generation supply will be needed, both to meet new demand and to improve the reliability of the electric system,” the official said.