BW FILE PHOTO
GRID operator National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) warned of possible rotational brownouts in Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon on Friday, a day after the Energy department once again assured Congress that power supply is sufficient with the addition of new sources.
In an advisory early in the day, NGCP placed the Luzon grid on yellow alert on several intervals during the day, starting at 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., with the last interval at 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
It also placed Luzon, which has the country’s biggest power grid, on red alert from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., and from 12:00 noon to 4:00 p.m.
The projected peak power demand during the day was at 11,046 megawatts (MW) as against available capacity of 11,054 MW.
Privately owned NGCP said it might implement “manual load dropping” or rotational brownouts in parts of areas served by Manila Electric Co. and some electric cooperatives in Luzon “to maintain the integrity of the power system.”
“Schedule may be cancelled if system condition improves, such as if actual demand falls below projections,” the company said. “NGCP encourages everyone to exercise prudence in using electricity.”
A yellow alert notice is issued when the dispatchable power reserve is fully spent and the system is already tapping into its contingency reserve. A red alert notice means both dispatchable and contingency reserves are gone.
Both reserves are equivalent to the biggest operating plant online — the two identical units of the power plant in Sual, Pangasinan each with a capacity of 647 MW.
Without dispatchable and contingency reserves, the system is running on its regulating reserve, which is equivalent to 4% of the peak demand for the day.
A few days before the mid-term elections, areas in Luzon were warned of possible rotational brownouts, with the earliest in parts of Ilocos Sur and Metro Manila.
At 12:00-1:00 p.m., the warning was announced in parts of Albay, Quezon, and in Metro Manila. At 1:00-2:00 p.m., it covered parts of Baguio City and Benguet, Zambales, Bataan, Angeles City in Pampanga, Batangas, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay and Metro Manila.
At 3:00-4:00 p.m., a brownout warning was announced in parts of Ilocos Norte, Cagayan and Apayao, Pampanga, Bataan, Quezon, Camarines Sur, and Metro Manila.
Department of Energy (DoE) Assistant Secretary Redentor E. Delola told a hearing by the Joint Congressional Power Commission (JCPC) on Thursday that the Luzon grid has sufficient power on May 13, election day. He said power demand is traditionally low on election days, which are usually public holidays.
“There is a sufficient supply,” DoE Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi told the hearing, but he said the problem arose when 1,500 MW of power was lost, with several generation plants going on an unscheduled outage at the same time.
Mr. Cusi said 470 MW were added to the system when three power plants were energized.
On May 4, Sem-Calaca Power Corp.’s unit 2 in Calaca will be back online, bringing in 200 MW in dependable capacity. On May 6, TeaM Energy Corp.’s unit 1 in Pagbilao will also be back with 382 MW.
Mr. Cusi also said demand of about 250 MW could help ease the power requirement with the activation of Meralco’s interruptible loan program, or a scheme where private entities run their own generator sets.
However, Mr. Delola said there would still be a problem during the election period if unscheduled power plant outages result in the loss of 1,500 MW.
“[On] election day wala tayong problema (we don’t have a problem], but after the election day, the demand level is higher than what we had [in] April. With that and the same amount of outage, we can really expect that there will be a problem,” he said.
“On the issue of the outages, the worst case that will happen is just it’s an hour outage per area, so that’s how the rotational outages are being implemented. I cannot speak for Comelec (Commission on Elections), but I think the machines are able to run on emergency supply for one hour,” he said.
“The worst [case] scenario if we experience again what happened last April 10, 11 and 12, we expect that there will still be outages much more now because the demand is higher,” he added.
Separately, Philippine Independent Power Producers, Inc. (PIPPA) said in a statement on Friday that the grid needs to address demand spikes that happen around 2% of the time in the entire year.
“This means that peaking capacity is needed, not more baseload capacities that will not be used 98% of the time. We already have capacities at present in addition to new and increased capacities, which continue to be added in the coming years. What we need to do is to fill in the gaps in the energy system,” it said, referring to the provision of forwards and reserves market, energy storage solutions, improved grid function, among others.
“By properly addressing this need we will avoid falling into reactionary approaches to a temporary and highly seasonal incident, which in the long run, will be costly to the entire industry,” it said.
The group describes itself as an association of 28 companies engaged in power generation that account for 82.8% or 13,549.4 MW of the grid installed capacity. Its members have power plants all over the Philippines.
The power supplier of Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative (Zamcelco) has signed a compromise deal with the distribution utility’s investor-manager on Friday, ending the rotating brownouts that hit the city in recent months.
In separate statements, Western Mindanao Power Corp. (WMPC) on one side and the Crowninvestments Holdings Inc. on the other said they had signed the agreement, ensuring the resumption of power in Zamboanga City.
The signing comes a day after the DoE told reporters that the two sides had yet to sign a compromise deal after the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) heard the squabbling parties on April 25 to urge them to amicably settle their dispute.
“We are glad to restore power and normalcy to Zamboanga City,” said Joseph C. Nocos, vice-president for business development of WMPC and the Alsons Power Group.
“By signing the compromise agreement, we reaffirm our commitment to be Zamboanga’s partner for growth in the long term,” he added.
WMPC is running its power plant again, providing immediate relief to residents and businesses that have suffered from the effects of power outages reaching up to six hours, the Alcantara’s energy company said.
“We have been trying to settle with WMPC for three months now. We are glad that WMPC finally accepted this compromise. With this, we can stop rotational brownouts and stabilize electricity in the city,” said Joseph Omar A. Castillo, lawyer and authorized spokesperson of Crowninvestments.
“As the new investor-manager, we are looking out for Zamboangueños after years of mismanagement of the city’s power co-op. Zamboangueños were made to pay more than what they should have. We want to return their money to them,” he added.
In September last year, the joint venture of Crowninvestments and Desco, Inc. announced that they had won the investor-management contract for Zamcelco with a P2.5-billion bid. The capital infusion allowed the cooperative to settle P1.2 billion of its outstanding debts, and invest in upgrades.
The dispute between WMPC and Zamcelco’s investor-manager started on Jan. 4, 2019, when the new management of the cooperative took over, Mr. Nocos had said.
He said the new management refused to pay its obligation, amounting to P467 million, which represents around four months of power delivered by WMPC from October 2018 to January 2019.
However, Mr. Castillo said WMPC had over-billed Zamcelco by P411 million, saying the terms of their power supply contract were not met to warrant the amount being claimed by the power generation company.
On April 26, the ERC announced that it had resolved the dispute between the two parties by encouraging them to amicably settle, thus averting power outages and further damage on Zamboangueños.
ERC Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer Agnes VST Devanadera said Zamcelco and WMPC had reached a compromise agreement, and the electric cooperative had agreed that the amount of P220 million would no longer be disputed and would be paid on April 29.
She said WMPC is to deliver the contracted capacity upon receipt of the said payment for a period of 60 days based on the provisionally approved power supply agreement (PSA) rate granted to power generation company.
The parties were scheduled to meet again on April 29 to further discuss Zamcelco’s balance of P247 million and execute a compromise agreement to be given imprimatur by the ERC.
On May 2, Mr. Delola said reports reaching the agency said the two had yet to sign a compromise deal.