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Brownouts hit Davao again

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DAVAO CITY, Philippines — For the first time since 2010, Davao, like most of Mindanao, is experiencing power outages again.

The one- to two-hour rotational power interruptions here started, ironically, after power was restored following massive Mindanao blackout on February 27.

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The culprit, according to Davao Light and Power Co. corporate affairs head Ross Luga, was the continued failure of the German company Steag to restore its two coal-fired power plants in Misamis Oriental.

Jerome Soldevilla, Steag communications officer, admitted in a news release that the company’s two power plants in Villanueva town, which used to supply 300 megawatts of electricity to the Mindanao grid, were still down.

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Steag’s power plants are Mindanao’s biggest in terms of unit capacity, supplying 10B kWh of electricity to the Mindanao grid, or about a fifth of the island’s total electricity supply, since they started operations in November 2006.

Soldevilla said the sudden power interruption on February 27 damaged the turbines of the coal-fired plants.

“The units, which used to supply 310 MW of power to the Mindanao grid, remained offline after sustaining damage to its turbine generating sets following the Mindanao-wide power blackout that caught the entire Mindanao by surprise on February 27,” he said.

Dr. Carsten Evers, Mindanao coal-fired plant manager, said the repair of the units may last for several weeks or more.

“We understand and recognize the precarious and very volatile power supply condition of Mindanao and we would like to assure all our stakeholders, especially the power consumers, that (Steag Philippines) is working round-the-clock to restore the units back on line,” Evers said in a statement.

Luga said the one-hour rotating power interruptions were not fixed and may be extended “up to two hours,” depending on the availability of power on a given schedule.

He said the rotational brownouts are meant to provide a “more equitable sharing of the available power that remained in the DLPC service areas, as major power plants undergo repairs after the damage caused by the Mindanao-wide blackout the previous week.

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“The rotating outages help avoid a total collapse of the entire Mindanao transmission grid, which happens when the demand for power exceeds the available supply,” the statement from the DLPC said. As of March 4, the National Grid and Power Corp. reported an 86 MW deficit in the Mindanao grid.

Soldevilla said Steag had yet to complete its comprehensive inspection and assessment of the turbine generating sets and will come up with a schedule and timetable for the actual repair in the next few days.

Until this time, officials of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines and the Department of Energy could not explain how the massive power outage started.

The DOE said in a report that energy agencies of the government are still looking into the cause of the system-wide shutdown, while closely monitoring Mindanao’s power supply situation.

When the power blackout happened at 3:52 a.m. on Feb. 27, the power demand within the Mindanao system stood at 785 MW, while supply stood at 853 MW; which meant there was still a reserve power of 93 MW in the grid. Initial NGCP reports showed that the tripping started in the breaker of the Agus 1 switchyard.

In Davao del Sur, the electric cooperative there was also implementing power interruptions due to scarcity of electricity.

Godofredo Guya, Davao del Sur Electric Coop. manager, said the interruptions would last up to four hours each day.

Unlike DLPC, Dasureco cannot use its standby modular generators to boost supply because the Energy Regulatory Board has not given it any authority yet.

“It will also contribute in avoiding total collapse of the entire Mindanao transmission grid which happens when the demand for power exceeds the available supply,” Guya said.

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TAGS: Davao City, Davao Light and Power Co., Electricity, Mindanao, power outage, Regions
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