Capacity loss in Luzon hits record high 2,800MW

by Myrna Velasco – August 5, 2016

from Manila Bulletin

The total capacity taken out from Luzon power grid reached record high of 2,838 megawatts (MW) in the three-week duration of repetitive yellow and red alert conditions in the electricity system – that was almost parallel to the 3,000MW plus capacity loss on the unfortunate industry events of 2013.

That record-high capacity loss was logged on July 30, 2016 (Saturday) when Luzon grid already hit breaking point, resulting in rolling brownouts in service areas outside of Metro Manila.

Data collated from both the system and market operators showed that demand relatively softened during the peak hours of 11:00 a.m.; 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. on that Saturday to 8,209 megawatts, 8,300MW and 7,821MW, respectively.

Available capacity, however, hand been relatively low at just 8,672MW because of the plants that were still out from the system on that power supply-strained weekend.

Gross reserves just hovered at 372 to 851MW; while net reserve had been critically cut-rate at ranges of 45MW to 142MW and a higher scale of 551MW.

Since July 19 until August 5, more than 20 generating units of various power plants have suffered either emergency or forced outages and the rest have been on maintenance shutdown schedules. Another red alert condition was raised Friday (August 5) with rotating brownouts enforced from 10:41 am and anticipated to last until 5:00pm.

The power facilities that suffered forced outages or emergency shutdowns include: units 1 and 2 of South Luzon Thermal Energy Corporation, Block 2 of the Ilijan gas-fired plant; unit 2 of Sual coal-fired power facility; unit 2 of Calaca coal-fired plant; unit 2 of Pagbilao facility; unit 4 of the Angat hydropower plant; unit 1 of the Kalayaan hydro plant; units 1 and 10 of the Makiling-Banahaw geothermal power plant; block 5 of the Limay cogeneration plant; unit 1 of the Malaya thermal power plant; unit 2 of the Southwest Luzon Power Generation Corporation (SLPGC); and the San Gabriel gas-fired power plant that is still at its commissioning phase.

The plants on maintenance shutdowns have been Pagbilao unit 2; Malaya units 1 and 2; Angat hydro plant main 2; Limay thermal plant unit 2; Module 20 of the Sta Rita gas plant; Malaya unit 1; SLTEC units 1 and 2; Calaca coal unit 2; and SLPGC unit 2.

Those that suffered de-rated or limited capacity during the supply-tormenting period include unit 1 of the Calaca plant; Malaya units 1 and 2; Kalayaan hydro plant; Angat and Magat hydro plants as well as the Limay thermal power facility.

The power system on ‘breakdown’ had prompted the Department of Energy (DOE) to “assess whether there are enough measures or standards for power generation companies to ensure their power plants are always in good condition and are able to meet their obligations to their respective customers.”

Beyond the periodic press releases and occasional response to text messages from the media, however, industry stakeholders have been batting for more concrete actions from Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi on how the department could address this distressing situation.

He promised “improving power supply situation in the country”, but how to get there is something that he had not given details on.

The energy chief just made proverbial statement that “we will strengthen the policies and programs and we will work with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to ensure that all standards are enforced to ascertain reliable, stable and reasonably priced electricity, because we cannot let the people suffer from power interruptions.”

He said “mechanisms are being studied by the DOE to include looking into the provision of replacement power for contracted capacities and the creation of technical audit teams to assess the operations and contracts of generation companies and distribution utilities as well as strengthening the promotion of energy investments to augment supply of electricity in the country.”