THE Energy Department warned that Luzon consumers face two-hour rotating power outages once the Malampaya gas facility is shut down for maintenance starting the middle of next month and will have to pay more for their electricity.
Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said in a television interview that March is a critical month because of the Malampaya shutdown from March 15 to April 14 that will affect the three natural gas plants with a combined capacity of 2,700 megawatts.
Petilla said that if other plants suddenly go on forced to stop producing electricity during the Malampaya shutdown and consumption rises because of summer, Luzon could experience the rotating blackouts.
Petilla also said power rates usually go up during the dry months and whenever Malampaya shuts down.
“It is normal to have a power rate hike because the Malapaya plant shuts down,” he said, because the Sta. Rita and San Lorenzo plants would shift to more expensive liquid fuel in the absence of natural gas.
The Ilijan natural gas plant is also expected to use diesel or biodiesel for one unit, which is also more expensive than natural gas.
The Energy Department, meanwhile, has created a task force to investigate the loss of power in three Visayan provinces.
The partial loss of power occurred at 1:45 a.m. Thursday in Cebu, Bohol, Leyte and Samar. Transmission operator National Grid Corp. of the Philippines was able to restore power at 9 a.m. on the same day.
Petilla said the power loss in the Visayas had little to do with a deficiency in power generation.
He said the department and Transco would conduct a detailed investigation to prevent a similar occurrence.
Mylene Capongcol, Energy Department director, said there was multiple line trippings but the cause of these was still being investigated.
She said the power outage was not a sign of more blackouts in summer.
“The blackout has nothing to do with summer,” she said.
In Mindanao, STEAG State Power Inc. said the island would lose 220 megawatts of power with the scheduled preventive maintenance of two of its plants from Feb. 19 to March 16.
In an announcement, SPI plant manager Carsten Evers said Power Plant 1 will be shut down from Feb. 19 to March 2 while Power Plant 2 will be from Feb. 21 to March 16.
The power plant is composed of two identical power generating units, each with a net generating output of 105MW.
Evers added that the units will be shut down for inspection and maintenance.