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Luzon power grid on ‘yellow alert’

Department of Energy Sec. Jericho Petilla. INQUIRER file photo.

Department of Energy Sec. Jericho Petilla. INQUIRER file photo.

The Luzon power grid was on Friday placed on “yellow alert” for the third time this month due to scheduled power plant maintenance shutdowns and lowered capacity of the Malampaya gas field, according to an official of the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), the largest distribution utility in the region.

A yellow alert means that the power supply has slumped to a level below the required reserve of 647 megawatts (MW). Should one more power generating plant conk out, brownouts will occur.

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The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), which is in charge of the country’s transmission superhighway, has declared the yellow alert for the peak demand hours of 10 to 11 a.m. and noon to 3 p.m. The yellow alert for the second peak was later extended to 10 p.m.

Citing data from NGCP, Meralco spokesperson Joe Zaldarriaga told reporters that reserve power in the Luzon grid was only 526 MW as of 11 a.m. It was estimated to dip to 445 MW during the 2 p.m. peak.

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“Official figures of available reserves are still being computed by NGCP,” Zaldarriaga said in a follow-up text message.

He said this was the second yellow alert since last week and the third over the past month. The recent dips in reserve were triggered by the lowered capacity of gas-fired power plants due to a restriction at the Malampaya gas field.

Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla, who inspected this week a newly installed platform at Malampaya, said technical glitches sometimes happen during new installations at gas fields.

Zaldarriaga said some power plants were also scheduled for maintenance outage today and an “emergency shutdown” of Unit 1 of the 600-MW Calaca power plant took out another 240 MW from the system. No reason was provided for the outage in Calaca, he said.

“Other power stations that were out included Unit 1 of the Malaya thermal facility (300 MW), Limay Unit 1 (100 MW) and Unit 2 (70 MW), Unit A-2 of the Tiwi geothermal plant (27 MW), Pagbilao Unit 1 (382 MW), and the 264-MW Sta. Rita gas plant module 40,” he said.

Sta. Rita module 10 changed to liquid fuel from natural gas due to the natural gas restriction at Malampaya, Zaldarriaga said.

The Quezon Power plant in Mauban, Quezon, has also been operating at lowered capacity of 190 MW from its capacity of 460 MW, Zaldarriaga said.

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Pagbilao Unit 1 of Japanese-led TeaM Energy Philippines, has been on scheduled maintenance shutdown.

Because of the power slump, Zaldarriaga added that Meralco was ready to implement the Interruptible Load Program (ILP), under which volunteer firms will use their generation sets to ease demand from the grid.

About 900 MW of capacity may be deloaded from the grid through the ILP.

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TAGS: Luzon, Luzon power grid, Malampaya gas field, Manila Electric Company, MERALCO, Yellow Allert
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