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DOE: 15 yellow alerts expected in 2023, red alert still possible

The Department of Energy (DOE) expects the Luzon Grid to be placed under yellow alert status 15 times for the remainder of the year, but said a red alert is still possible if a repeat of the tripping of the transmission line on Monday should occur.

In a virtual briefing on Tuesday, the DOE said yellow alerts are expected in all weeks of May, weeks 22 to 24 in June, weeks 32 to 34 in August, weeks 35 and 38 in September, weeks 39 and 42 in October, and week 47 in November.

The agency in January only projected the Luzon Grid to be be placed under yellow alert status — which indicates that the grid has thin reserves — a dozen times this year.

According to Energy Undersecretary Rowena Cristina Guevarra, the latest projections took into account the worst-case scenario, and ongoing transmission constraints due to the delays in the connection of the grid to other sources.

“The delays, unfortunate ano, sana ‘yung delay hanggang before summer sana, but then it extended all after summer pa matatapos, that’s why we have this situation,” said Guevarra.

(The delays (are) unfortunate. We hoped that the delays would last only until before summer, but then it got extended and will continue until after summer, that’s why we have this situation.)

Asked whether a red alert status could still be raised, Guevarra said this is possible if a repeat of Monday's outages should happen.

“May possibility pa rin, pero magkakamukha ng nangyari kahapon. (There is still a possibility, like what happened yesterday.) Remember, this is the first red alert of the year,” she said.

The DOE, meanwhile, said that some plants are expected to come in later this year such as the Ilijan Power Plant which has a 1,200 megawatts capacity.

"These projects still have not been fully completed and the recent prolonged power outage in Panay and Negros among others and power interruption yesterday have been traced principally to inadequacies in transmission system," said Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla in Maki Pulido's report on "24 Oras".

The red alert status, which indicates that there is zero ancillary service or that a generation deficiency exists, was raised on Monday, prompting rotational power interruptions across Metro Manila.

This came as there were five power plants on forced outages while three others were running at derated capacities following the tripping of the Bolo-Masinloc transmission line.

On Tuesday, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, vice chairman of the Senate energy committee, said that the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) should be "held accountable" for the power outages.

Meanwhile, the NGCP has released a statement on its initial investigation on what caused the red alert in the Luzon grid on Monday. 

"NGCP's Bolo-Masinloc 230kV Line 2 tripped. This line is N-1, or operates with a redundancy. The load carried by Line 2 was automatically transferred to Line 1 when the former tripped...  NGCP emphasizes that protection settings of customers connected to its system must remain consistent with NGCP’s protection settings and other grid parameters," it said.

"We are coordinating with Masinloc power plant and other grid-connected generating plants on the way forward and to ensure that protection settings are in sync between generating plants and NGCP." 

The DOE, meanwhile, said it is still awaiting the official explanation for the incident, but initial information showed that heavy rains and lightning hit the transmission line, and caused the issue. —VAL, GMA Integrated News