Metro Manila power supply normalizes after interruptionsBy Amy R. Remo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Residents of Metro Manila may look forward to watching Manny Pacquiao’s boxing match with Timothy Bradley Sunday sans power interruptions, as the city’s electricity supply normalized after causing brownouts of up to three hours in various places Saturday.
Energy Undersecretary Josefina Patricia Asirit said in a phone interview that the Luzon grid was already on “yellow alert,” which meant that there was enough electricity to serve the demand of all consumers. However, any more breakdowns in any power facility on Luzon could cause another spate of brownouts on the island.
Several areas in Metro Manila experienced power interruptions of up to three hours Saturday due to outages of several large and critical facilities connected to the Luzon grid. As of 6:30 p.m. Saturday, power distributor Manila Electric Co. was unable to provide a list of areas affected by the brownouts, which officials had said were expected to continue up to 10 p.m..
Asirit confirmed that the 647-megawatt unit of the 1,200-MW Sual coal-fired power plant in Pangasinan had “tripped” but started operating again by Saturday afternoon.
This Sual facility is owned and operated by Team Energy, but its contracted capacity and fuel requirements are being managed by conglomerate San Miguel Corp.
Further aggravating the power supply situation were, according to Asirit, the scheduled preventive maintenance of the 1,200-MW Ilijan natural gas power plant in Batangas and a technical glitch at the Malampaya gas field off Palawan, which caused an interruption in the supply of gas to three power facilities.
The Malampaya gas field currently provides gas to the 1,000-MW Sta. Rita, 500-MW San Lorenzo and the 1,200-MW Ilijan gas plants in Batangas. These three facilities alone provide almost 40 percent of the electricity requirements of the Luzon grid.
Asirit assured the public that no further power interruptions were expected Sunday.
In another phone interview, Cynthia Alabanza, spokesperson for system operator National Grid Corp. of the Philippines noted that the Luzon grid’s total supply on Saturday was reduced by a total of 1,500 megawatts due to the emergency shutdown of the power plants.
The NGCP was able to tap diesel fired power facilities to increase the electricity supply in Luzon but still fell short by 500 MW, explaining the brownouts on Saturday.
Asirit confirmed that the NGCP used three power plants, namely the Limay combined cycle plant in Bataan, One Subic diesel facility and the Bauang diesel plant.
Industry sources, however, warned that these outages may raise power rates next month as the power generated from the diesel facilities are usually more expensive because of the fuel cost. Also, the fact they may be running as must-run units, according to sources, will allow them to charge a premium for generating electricity.