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Widespread power outage grips Panay Island

Residents of Panay Island are suffering from a massive power outage due to a multiple tripping of power plants on the island. 

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) said it monitored the tripping of Panay Energy Development Corporation (PEDC) Unit 1 at 12:06 p.m. on Tuesday, January 2, due to an “internal issue.”

The PEDC Unit 2, Palm Concepcion Power Corporation (PCPC), and other plants then tripped at 2:19 p.m.

NGCP said the cause of the multiple tripping was unknown. 

On Wednesday, NGCP spokesperson Cynthia Alabanza said they are still determining the reason behind the power outage. 

“Sa lahat naman ng mga ganitong kalaking insidente, talagang lahat is still under investigation,” she said in a Dobol B TV interview. 

(This huge incident is still under investigation.) 

“So right now the information, the initiating event is the sudden emergency shutdown of PEDC 1 at 83 megawatts. That's a big chunk tapos 2 hours later around 2 p.m., 2 more units went down. Too much na kumbaga almost zero generation output na for Panay Island,” she later said in a 24 Oras interview.

(That's too much since there is almost zero generation output for Panay Island.) 

Alabanza said a total of four power plants on the island are currently on shutdown, accounting for 400 megawatts (MW). 

“Unfortunately, hindi ko siya mabigyan ng restoration time kasi nakasalalay tayo doon sa kuryenteng gagawin ng mga planta na right now naka-out,” she said.

(Unfortunately, I can't give a restoration time because we depend on the electricity generated by the plants which are on shutdown right now.) 

As of 6 a.m., NGCP said that only 144.2 MW were being served by the Panay power plants, augmented by 51.8 MW from other sources in the Visayas. 

NGCP said the grid needs about 218 MW to stabilize, adding it is waiting for the PEDC Unit 1 and PCPC to synchronize back to the grid.

Call to action

The NGCP said Wednesday that the primary cause of the power interruption was the unscheduled maintenance shutdowns of the largest power plants in Panay Island.

Aside from the tripping of three of the largest power generating units and the planned maintenance shutdown of PEDC Unit 3, NGCP said the maintenance shutdowns and deration of plants outside the Department of Energy's (DOE) approved Grid Operating and Maintenance Program also contributed to the lack of power supply.

“We emphasize the need for improved planning to ensure sufficient generation per island, with a well-balanced mix of fuels and technology,” NGCP said in a statement.

The NGCP also stressed the need for policy makers to conduct a more robust resource optimization planning “to ensure that solutions to power system concerns are approached from all angles, and the most efficient ones prioritized.”

“Given the configuration of the Panay sub-grid and its dependency on variable energy sources in Negros when it loses internally generated power, NGCP also noted the need to provide sufficient non-variable sources to stabilize the system,” it said.

The company also mentioned the Cebu-Negros-Panay Stage 3 project as a possible solution.

The NGCP also recommended the review of the Philippine Grid Code to cater to renewable energy sources, particularly the effective use of emerging technologies such as energy storage systems.

Moreover, in a 24 Oras report, Alabanza said aside from improving the transmission lines, it is also best to have baseload plants that would provide additional power supply in Panay Island.—KBK/AOL/RF, GMA Integrated News