Power supply thin—NGCP

Consumers continue to face thin power supply over the weekend when demand is low.

Grid operator National Grid Corp. of the Philippines issued a yellow alert advisory for the Luzon Grid from 10:01 AM to 5:00 PM and 7:00 PM to 10:00 PM on Saturday.

The Department of Energy, however, said some power plants were back online to help manage power demand.

DOE said South Luzon Thermal Energy Corp. (SLTEC) Unit 1  controlled by the Ayala Group was now running on full load. It was synchronized to the grid at 2:03 AM and achieved full load at 8:50 AM Saturday.

In related developments:

--A militant legislator on Saturday expressed suspicion on what he called the “coordinated” shutdown of power plants in Luzon.

Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate raised the suspicion as Luzon was placed on power red alert for the fourth day due to the shut down of several power plants in the country’s largest island.

His suspicion of a “coordinated shutdown” prompted Zarate to ask President Rodrigo Dutetere to order agencies regulating the power sector to review power supply agreement between electricity producers and distributors to determine “if indeed they are the best deals for Filipino consumers.”

“With what is happening, the consumers are always on the losing end... the yellow alert was raised several weeks ago and now, red alert is in force,” Zarate said at a news conference.

“They say [several] powerplants broke down at the same time. This has been happening since 2012,” he added. 

--For his part, Sen. Win Gatchalian, described as totally unacceptable the brownouts felt by constituents in Luzon these past few days, is calling for an investigation into the unexpected brownouts that hit several towns and cities in Luzon.

Gatchalian issued the statement following the assurance by DOE that there was ample supply of electricity reserve throughout the dry season.

Gatchalian, chair of the Senate Committee on Energy, also made the call amid the series of yellow and red alert warnings issued by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) for the Luzon grid this past week.

The energy department guaranteed that even before the start of summer that there would be enough power supply in the country.   

“If there’s enough power supply, then how come that there are towns and provinces in Luzon that are experiencing rotational brownouts,” asked Gatchalian.

READ: ‘Rotational brownouts’ amid hot summer days

“Definitely, heads must roll this time. We owe it to the power consumers to give them accurate information on the power situation in the country,” he said.

DOE, however, said that starting 1:00 PM Saturday, the 420 MW total capacity of San Gabriel would be reduced by 210 MW due to gas volume restrictions.

“This restriction will only take effect over the weekend to give way to the necessary line pack recovery in preparation for weekday demand. In this regard, one unit of Santa Rita will be operating on liquid fuel to ensure that all units of the Santa Rita, San Lorenzo, and San Gabriel plants will be able to run on their maximum outputs,” the agency said.

DOE said initial NGCP assessment indicates that the changeover will not have any impact on the situation of the grid.

READ: NGCP sees power demand hitting new high of 11,403 MW

It said that the Limay A1 (70 MW) also went on forced outage yesterday due to tripping from actuation of turbine over speed relay. 

DOE is also hoping that  San Miguel Consolidated Power  Corp. (SMCCPC) Limay Unit 2 and Pagbilao Unit 3 of Team Energy and Aboitiz Power Corp. and Sual Unit 1 of Team Energy will come online next week.

According to Zarate, Sual power plant, Calaca powerplant and Pagbilao power plant and even the Malaya powerplant were always on the list of those breaking down.

But there are new ones like SCPC, SLPGC, and SLTEC.

“Why is it that they always have to break down at the same time when demand is highest?” Zarate asked.

The consumers cannot be blamed for suspecting that the breakdowns are deliberately caused to increase power rates, he added.

“President Duterte should immediately order the review of the PSAs of these generation companies,” he added.

Citing a report from the NGCP, Gatchalian said at least seven provinces along with 40 cities and towns had so far been affected by the rotating brownouts due to the forced and unplanned outages of five generators in Luzon.

Gatchalian said part of the investigation to be conducted by the Senate Committee on Energy would center on DOE’s inaccurate electricity forecast throughout the summer season, as well as the department’s contingency measures in case of unexpected power interruptions.

The lawmaker pointed out that the DOE’s forecast did not include unplanned outages. 

He added that the forecast also included the committed capacities in their available capacity, thus making the projection less realistic.   

Comparing DOE forecast with the NGCP projections, Gatchalian said the projected available capacity of DOE is way above the level of the projected capacity of the NGCP.

Gatchalian pointed out that on April 11, 2019, the DOE did forecast that there were at least 1,085 megawatts (MW) gross reserve, indicating that there was enough supply of electricity for Luzon.   

He said this was in contrast with the forecast of the NGCP, which showed that the gross reserve for April 11 was only 236 MW, which, according to the lawmaker, was thin and below the required regulating reserve.

Moreover, on April 12, 2019, Gatchalian said DOE made another inaccurate forecast stating that there was still 1,006 MW gross reserve that was enough to power the Luzon grid.   

However, the NGCP sounded alarm bells and issued a red alert status after it forecasted a gross reserve of only 21 MW for the same day, lower and way below the sum of the required regulating reserve.

The NGCP further reported that at least five generators – SCPC, Sual, SLPGC, Pagbilao, and SLTEC – remain in either forced or unplanned outages, resulting in the loss of 1,502 MW of electricity.

“Our power consumers deserve nothing but accurate information,” he said.

Meanwhile, Gatchalian reiterated his call to DOE to remain vigilant for possible collusion due to thin electricity reserves in the midst of high demand.

Topics: power supply , National Grid Corp. of the Philippines , yellow alert , Department of Energy
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