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Rotational brownouts may run until June 7 due to Luzon grid thin power supply —NGCP

Electricity consumers in Luzon may expect rotational brownouts to be implemented for the entire first week of June amid thin power supply resulting from planned and unplanned outages of several power plants, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) said Tuesday.

At a virtual press conference, NGCP spokesperson Cynthia Alabanza said that the red and yellow alert statuses raised on the Luzon grid “will be continuing until the 7th [of June],” except for the weekends since power demand is usually low every Saturday and Sunday.

[READ: Schedule of rotational power interruptions in Meralco franchise area]

NGCP earlier placed the Luzon Grid under Yellow Alert from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m., from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., and from 10 p.m. to 12 a.m.; and Red Alert from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., indicating that there is zero ancillary services or a generation deficiency exists.

This, as available capacity of the grid is at 11,408 megawatts while the peak demand is estimated at 11,593 megawatts (MW).

NGCP is also projecting a power supply deficiency of around 201 MW.

The grid operator said it may implement manual load dropping (MLD) or rotational brownouts in parts of Luzon to “maintain the integrity of the power system.”

An MLD is defined as the process of cutting off power in areas served at a specific time due to power supply shortage.

For his part, NGCP head of Luzon System Beng Abadilla said the power grid operator is expecting the electricity supply situation to normalize by June 8 as a major plant that went on forced outage will come back online.

“Depende rin ‘yun kung maayos nila ang problema sa planta like boiler tube leak,” Abadilla said.

[That depends if they can fix the problem in their plant like boiler tube leak.]

In a separate advisory, the Department of Energy (DOE) said the yellow and red alerts on June 1 resulted from the unplanned outage of GMEC Coal-Fired Power Plant Unit 2, which took place at 3:56 a.m. due to a suspected boiler tube leak.

The plant, with a capacity of 316 MW, is expected to be back online by June 8, 2021.

Apart from the unplanned outage of GMEC Coal-Fired Power Unit 2, GMEC Coal Fired Power Plant Unit 1 and Sem-Calaca Power Corp. Calaca Unit 2 Coal-Fired Power Plant are on forced outage since February 6, 2021 and December 3, 2020, respectively. 

The three plants on forced outage have a total capacity of 1,579 MW.

Three hydroelectric power plant units of San Roque Power Corp., meanwhile, are on planned outage since May 30. The plants have a total capacity of 435 MW.

Abadilla, however, said the situation may worsen if another plant trips unexpectedly.

Alabanza said that to avoid rotating brownouts the long-term solution is additional supply of electricity as demand continues to rise.

The DOE, meanwhile, said that among the steps it has taken are the following: 

• The Competitive Selection Process policy so that Distribution Utilities may already bid out their requirements for new investments to come in. 

• The introduction of amendments to the market to allow more transparency in sending out investment signals. 

• The moratorium on new coal-fired power plants to emphasize the need for system flexibility. 

• Ancillary Services (AS) policies so that NGCP will contract on a firm basis all AS requirements given that they need to do forward contracting of these requirements and should not rely solely on what is available in the system. 

• The introduction of the Reserves Market to co-optimize the utilization of energy and reserves. This is an additional avenue for investments. 


—KG, GMA News