Rotating brownouts threaten Luzon as power plants shut downBy Amy R. Remo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
A spate of rotating brownouts is threatening to hit Luzon as the available power supply swung to low, precarious levels on Thursday.
Based on the data from the National Grid Corp. of Philippines, the Luzon grid’s power supply reserves remained “thin” at only 101 megawatts, putting the island on yellow alert, which meant that any further outage, even from a single power plant could already cause brownouts.
This power supply situation runs contrary to previous pronouncements that the Luzon grid enjoys a healthy buffer of about 1,700 MW to as much as 2,000 MW on any given day.
In a phone interview on Thursday, Energy Undersecretary Josefina Patricia Asirit explained that the drastic reduction in power supply reserves was caused by the outage of several critical facilities.
According to Asirit, one unit of the Sual coal-fired power plant in Pangasinan tripped on Thursday, removing 550 MW of supply from the grid. The repair for this unit can take six to eight weeks to complete, which means that this will coincide during the Malampaya shutdown next month.
“We’re still checking if the Sual unit can run at a limited capacity, maybe lower than 550 MW, while repairs are ongoing,” Asirit said.
This is the second time this month that a unit at the 1,200 MW Sual plant had bogged down. This facility is currently owned and operated by Team Energy, but the contracted capacities and fuel requirements are being managed by highly diversified conglomerate San Miguel Corp.
Further aggravating the power supply woes in Luzon is the shutdown of the 300-MW unit at the Calaca coal-fired power plant in Batangas. Asirit, however, said they were hoping that repairs would be completed soon.
A 382-MW unit at the Pagbilao coal plant in Quezon is also out, but due to a scheduled preventive maintenance. According to Asirit, many facilities are starting to undergo their respective maintenance repairs this rainy season, when power demand usually declines given the cooler weather.
The Pagbilao facility is also owned and operated by Team Energy but the contracted capacity is being managed by Aboitiz Power Corp.
Also out is the 350-MW unit at the Malaya thermal power plant in Rizal as the government moves to build up fuel inventory in preparation for the shutdown of the Malampaya gas field off Palawan from July 13 to 21.
“We’re hoping that everything will come together in time for Malampaya shutdown, that all these facilities will be online by then,” Asirit said.
This nine-day shutdown will affect the operations of the three gas-fired power plants in Batangas, which currently provide roughly 40 percent of Luzon’s electricity requirements. These facilities are the 1,200-MW Ilijan, 1,000-MW Sta. Rita and the 500-MW San Lorenzo gas plants—all of which are expected to use the more expensive liquid condensates during the shutdown period to ensure continued operations and stable power supply.
Originally posted at 01:23 pm | Thursday, June 22, 2012