Cusi: Power reserve remains critical

by Lenie LecturaAugust 8, 2016

from Business Mirror

Energy-sector stakeholders on Monday met to discuss how they can address the insufficient power reserves in Luzon, as projections for the week show that the “yellow alert” status would be issued for the entire week.

“In a meeting attended by the officials of the DOE [Department of Energy], NGCP [National Grid Corp. of the Philippines] and Meralco [Manila Electric Co.], projections show that there will be yellow alerts for the rest of the week, due to insufficient power supply brought about by scheduled and forced outages of power plants,” Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said.

According to NGCP, power reserves should be a little over 1,000 megawatts (MW) in order to lift a yellow alert.

However, based on NGCP’s monitoring outlook, the projected power reserves in a day for the week is a little over 1,000 MW.  “In the web site, the projections are done a day ahead. As we draw closer, the figures are becoming more accurate. Remember that there are unplanned outages on top of the planned outages that unexpectedly occur,” NGCP Spokesman Cynthia Alabanza said when sought for comment.

Luzon was placed on yellow-alert status by NGCP on Monday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., but was later lifted at 1 p.m. due to sufficient ancillary reserves.

Team Energy, operator of Sual and Pagbilao power plants, said on Monday all units of the two power plants are fully available as of 11 a.m. It added that Sual’s Unit 2 (600 MW) will go on planned maintenance shutdown from August 27 to September 26.

The recent series of yellow- and red- alert status in the Luzon grid began on July 26. There were a number of power plants in Luzon that simultaneously shut down for maintenance, several others on forced outage and others operated on limited capacity, triggering a sharp increase in the prices of electricity and rolling outages.

A yellow alert is issued by NGCP when contingency reserve is less than the capacity of the largest synchronized unit of the grid. In Luzon this is equivalent to 647 megawatts (MW), or one unit of the Sual power plant.

A red alert, meanwhile, means that there is severe power deficiency.

To mitigate the effects to the public and while awaiting for affected power plants to be synchronized to the grid, the following were agreed upon:

■ Encourage consumers to conserve energy.

■ Meralco and non-Meralco covered areas to encourage more participation in the interruptible load program (ILP).

■ NGCP to increase its importation of electricity from the Visayas without affecting their energy requirements.

■ Meralco to explore the possibility of entering into contracts with diesel-powered plants to augment supply.

“In the long term, the DOE will require a more efficient synchronization of the system and a more accurate data to determine the needed supply,” the agency said.

The DOE gave no details on the participation of the power-generating companies that attended
the meeting.

For NGCP’s part, the grid operator said it will “pursue to encourage non-Meralco ILP” participants.

Alabanza said these are the heavy commercial or industrial users who are outside of the Meralco  franchise area.

“The ERC already approved the framework for this last year, but we received a lukewarm response. We will pursue this nonetheless. NGCP will also maximize our
line so we can import power from the Visayas without compromising their own supply in terms of stability and supply,” the NGCP official added.