DOE officials say no sabotage seen in Easter Sunday blackout in Mindanao

by Lenie Lectura, 06 April 2015
from BusinessMirror

ENERGY officials on Monday ruled out sabotage in the Mindanao grid-wide blackout that occurred on Easter Sunday.

At a news conference, Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla said there are no indications that would connect the seven-hour power outage to sabotage.

Instead, the grid disturbance was caused by a detached conductor that hit the capacitor voltage transformer (CVT). The said conductor connects the CVT, a metering equipment, to the Agus switchyard which, in turn, is connected to the  Agus-Pulangi hydroelectric power complex in Lanao del Sur.

“There was no indication of sabotage. There was no indication when it was going to fail. This equipment was already 40 years old but its lifespan is 50.  This was already replaced by the NGCP [National Grid Corp. of the Philippines],” Petilla said.

The power facility is owned by the National Power Corp. but is maintained by the NGCP, said Petilla.

The energy chief formed a team to conduct an investigation.  The result of the probe will be out on April 15.

“Part of investigation is to identify which areas are most likely going to fail so this will not happen again,” he said.

Officials from the National Transmission Corp. and the NGCP were also present during the briefing. They said there usually are no indications when electro-mechanical devices will conk out.

“The only way to make sure that this will not happen again is to replace it and NGCP did that. Other areas are already being evaluated to prevent a repeat,” Petilla said.

Loss of power occurred in the Mindanao grid at 1:01 a.m. last Sunday. Power was restored at 8 a.m. on the same day.

The last time Mindanao experienced a similar island-wide power outage was last year when the power generators of the Steag State Power Co. in Misamis Oriental conked out.

Meanwhile, Party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate of Bayan is asking the Aquino administration to explain the Mindanao-wide blackout that happened on Easter Sunday. “We challenge the Aquino administration, particularly the Department of Energy [DOE], to be transparent and reveal to the public the real cause of the Mindanao-wide Easter Sunday outage that left millions of residents in the dark for seven hours,” the Davao-based solon said.

“This island-wide black out is now becoming an annual occurrence as it also happened on February 27, 2014, when the Aboitiz-controlled Steag State Power Inc. coal-fired power plant in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental, mysteriously dropped its capacity from 200 megawatts to 160 MW. Was it merely coincidence that the recent Easter Sunday blackout occurred when another Aboitiz-owned coal-fired power plant in Mindanao started its operation?” Zarate asked.

“This recent blackout came at a time when the Aquino administration is again aggressively pushing for the privatization of the Agus-Pulangi Hydro Power Complex, which accounts for at least 50 percent of the power source in Mindanao. There is more to these outages than meets the eye and the people of Mindanao want an answer from the DOE and the other players like the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines,” Zarate said. 

With Marvyn N. Benaning

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