DOE to review 30-day period for power-plant shutdowns

by Lenie LecturaMay 1, 2016

from Business Mirror

The Department of Energy (DOE) said it intends to review the 30-day period within which power plants are allowed to go offline.

“We would like to look into it, even though it is indicated in the contract between a power producer and its buyer,” Energy Secretary Zenaida Y. Monsada said in an interview.

Monsada said it is normal for a power plant to undergo scheduled maintenance shutdown once in a while. At the same time, it is also “understandable,” she said, for some power plants to suddenly conk out.

The contract between a power- plant owner and its customer, or the one buying power from the plant, states that the power outage should not go beyond 30 days.

“Somehow, during the 30 days, the off-taker is the one responsible to source for replacement power during the time that power plant is offline. We at the DOE would like to look as if that should be part of the power producer’s obligation and not the off-taker,” Monsada said.

When asked if part of the review would involve shortening the 30-day period, Monsada said, “It’s part of our review. Normally, [shutdowns] don’t go beyond 30 days.”

Monsada stressed the need for all power plants to run smoothly during the election period so as to avoid brownout. However, she said, it is beyond the DOE’s authority if there would be incidents of sudden plant shutdown due to technical glitches.

“The DOE cannot say that there won’t be any blackout, because we are not the power-plant operators. But we will assure the public that we are doing all the preparations necessary to avert such incident. That is why we are appealing to all generation companies in Luzon to make all the necessary preparations. They must do all the repairs before election,” she said.

In Luzon, the DOE chief said, demand is expected to reach 9,000 megawatts (MW) during the elections on May 9 as against a capacity of about 12,000 MW. “Demand is normally low on election day itself.”

In Mindanao, however, there could be areas that would still be on rotating brownouts. However, she assured that “all voting area would have adequate power supply.”

Monsada said there is an ongoing drill for Interruptible Load Program (ILP) participants to make sure their generators work and they have enough fuel in case.

“We need to simulate the situation, since generators will typically need two hours to get to full operations,” she said.

The ILP was implemented on April 15 to avert a possible brownout in the franchise area of the Manila Electric Co., following the red-alert notice issued by the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines from 1 to 4 p.m. on April 15.

Meanwhile, the Power Task Force Election (PTFE) 2016, led by the DOE, is almost done with preparatory works to ensure that power supply is sufficient, stable and reliable during the election period.

“We are nearing completion of preparations to ensure the readiness of the systems and power stakeholders who have roles to play during election day,” Monsada said.

All power generators will be running at full capacity during elections, except for the 180-MW Kalayaan Unit 4, which extended its maintenance until May 14.

In Mindanao dispatch of water resource for hydropower plants is being managed to ensure that there will be higher production during the critical period.

The task force has conducted a simulation drill to check if all systems are working at the dedicated task-force command centers around the country. Prior to that, the group also visited the satellite command centers to inspect the power-grid facilities in Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.