ERC sets per-unit capacity limits for power projects

by Myrna Velasco – June 3, 2016

from Manila Bulletin

Upon the recommendation of the Grid Management Committee (GMC), the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has set the per-unit limits of capacity that shall be installed by developers in power projects across grids.

In a newly issued resolution, the regulatory body prescribed that the capacity limit for Luzon grid shall be set 650 megawatts, adjusted slightly from currently at 647MW.

For Visayas and Mindanao grids, the per-unit capacity limit for each generating facility has been set at 150MW. Previously, Visayas limit was at 103MW; while Mindanao grid was maintained at 150MW.

The ERC noted that this shall aid in ensuring the required contingency reserve for the power system, “at any given time based on the magnitude of the largest single contingency criterion (N-1 criterion).”

As dictated by edict underpinning the efficient operations of a power system, the level of contingency reserve that must be ensured shall be the equivalent of the largest unit in a particular grid.

N-1 criterion infers that the power system’s services shall not be disrupted if one component of it would encounter failure; and that there is a back-up system that will immediately take on the load in case of any technical glitches in any grid.

The ERC explained that “maintaining an amount of contingency reserve equal to the system’s most severe single contingency is a standard being observed and practiced even in the most complex grid worldwide because the system must be able to withstand the largest single contingency regardless of the probability of its occurrence.”

The regulatory body added “the GMC recommended to limit the capacity of prospective power generating plants to 650MW per unit in Luzon; and 150MW per unit in Visayas, and Mindanao grids, which would protect the grid against a single contingency event that may be brought about by the failure of the largest generating unit online, as well as the cost to consumers of an outage or a higher reserve requirement.”

The GMC has recommendatory powers on policy setting as well as in crafting standards for the operations of the country’s power grid.

The ERC resolution on capacity limits of power generating units will take effect after the usual 15 days publication requirement. It was signed April 5 this year.