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Visayas now on red alert as demand surpasses power supply

(Updated 9:45 p.m.) Three days after placing the Luzon grid on red alert, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines placed the Visayas grid on red alert due to zero reserve power.
As of Monday noon, the NGCP said the Visayas grid had zero reserve power, with the projected peak demand surpassing the projected system capacity for the day.
While the Visayas grid had a projected system capacity of 1,498 megawatts for the day, its expected peak demand is greater at 1,569 MW.
Luzon grid was placed under yellow alert as of Monday morning as its reserve power at the time was 212 MW. But as of 2 p.m., the NGCP said Luzon grid had reserves of 815 MW.
Under the NGCP's alert system, a yellow alert is raised when the total reserve is less than the capacity of the largest plant online. For the Luzon grid, this is 647 MW.
A red alert is a “system condition when the contingency reserve is zero or a generation deficiency exists.”

Three power plants down

In a report on "24 Oras" aired Monday evening, Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said three power plants – one in Cebu, another in Iloilo, and yet another in Leyte – went offline.

“[T]hey should be back on Thursday or Friday pero kailangan mag-import sila ng kuryente galing sa Manila, usually kasi pabalik.”

Demand expected to go up this week

Last Friday, the NGCP placed the Luzon grid on red alert and imposed a rotational brownout after the 700-megawatt Pagbilao coal-fired power plant in Quezon and the 1,200-MW coal-fired Sual 2 power plant in Pangasinan went down.

The alert was lowered by late Friday afternoon. The NGCP said power supply in Luzon went back to normal with reserves of about 1000 MW.

Petilla said, however, that they cannot yet guarantee power supply in Luzon the highest electricity demand is expected this week, with the hottest temperature expected on May 21 or 22.

“The peak demand is this week, for the entire year. Pagkatapos ng linggong ito, ang demand pababa na,” Petilla said.

Power distributor Manila Electric Company (Meralco) spokesman Joe Zaldarriaga meanwhile assured the public that they have contingency plans in case the power demand shoots up.

“We did the necessary measures which include the consistent maintenance and upgrading of our facilities... We are hoping that there will be no power plants that will go offline,” Zaldarriaga said.

He said they will have to rely on the implementation of the Interruptible Load Program (ILP) in case more power plants go down.

“Makakatulong din ito dahil instead na ma-expose ka sa merkado, sa spot market, ito ang parang naging bangga doon sa exposure mo sana,” Zaldarriaga said.

Under the ILP, big businesses such as malls and hotels will get paid by Meralco if they use their own generating facilities during peak hours, allowing Meralco to serve other customers.

He said they are in constant communication with big business establishments to participate in the ILP. — Joel Locsin and Elizabeth Marcelo/KG/JDS, GMA News