ERC starts investigation of power plant outages

by Alena Mae S. Flores – July 31, 2016 at 11:50 pm

from Manila Standard Today

The Energy Regulatory Commission said over the weekend it started investigating the series of ‘yellow’ and ‘red alerts’ in the Luzon grid which resulted in electricity price surges at the spot market.

The yellow and red alerts were raised amid lack of power reserves after several power plants went on scheduled and unscheduled shutdowns.

“We are also aware of the situation and we have in fact noted price surges during the past few days. We have identified the plants that have gone on unscheduled outages and if this condition sustains for some time, we will look into the bidding patterns of these plants,”  ERC chairman Jose Vicente Salazar said.

The Energy Department said Saturday nearly 3,000 megawatts of capacity were on forced outage, which resulted in ‘brownouts’ in several areas.

Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi asked ERC to look into whether industry players engaged in anti-competitive behavior during the period of tight supply.

“We may look further into this if we find reason to believe that the players have taken advantage of the current supply deficit to drive up prices,”  Salazar said.

Salazar said that with the secondary price cap in place at the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market, the country’s trading floor of electricity, “we may not see the prices reaching extraordinary levels.”

Cusi earlier sent a letter to ERC requesting the regulator to look into whether anti-competition existed during the said period.  He also asked ERC to direct the power firms to explain why their respective power plants went offline.

National Grid Corp. implemented manual load dropping Saturday due to lack of power generation capacity at 10:35 a.m. outside the Manila Electric Co. franchise, accounting for 38 MW.

Meralco responded by activated its interruptible load program and asked participants to deload starting 10 a.m. Saturday.

The department said there was a “huge loss of power supply” totaling 2,946 MW, brought about by the outage of unit 2 of Sual coal-fired power plant, unit 2 of the Calaca coal-fired power plant, unit 2 of the Malaya thermal power plant, unit 1 of the GN Power coal-fired power plant, unit 2 of the Pagbilao Coal-Fired Power Plant, unit 3 and unit 4 of the Kalayaan  hydro plants.

Power plants on maintenance shutdown included unit 1 and unit 2 of South Luzon Therma Energy Corp; unit 2 of Kalayaan hydro plant and unit 2 of the Sta. Rita natural gas power plant.

Malaya power plant’s unit 2 was also running on a limited capacity at 135 MW.

Luzon grid remained on yellow alert Sunday, due to insufficiency of power receives.

The Energy Department formed technical audit teams to validate the figures submitted by the generating companies and the distribution utilities.

The technical audit teams aim to acquire accurate data on the delivery of quality, reliable, secure and affordable supply of energy.