Luzon faces tight power supply

by Alena Mae S. Flores – January 04, 2017 at 08:40 pm

from Manila Standard Today

Luzon faces tight power supply next month, as the repair of Malampaya natural gas project and the shutdown of several power plants will deprive the island of 1,850 megawatts of supply, the Energy Department said Wednesday.

The agency said a ‘yellow alert’ might be declared in the Luzon grid for five days representing the critical period of the Malampaya maintenance shutdown starting Jan. 28 until Feb. 17. The Malampaya gas project powers three power plants in Batangas with a combined capacity of 2,700 MW.

Power generation rates are also expected to increase by P1.20 per kilowatt-hour in the March billing, with the use of more expensive fuel and the resulting tight supply.

Energy undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella said around 1,850 megawatts would go offline during the Malamaya shutdown, compounded by the repair of other power plants.

“We want to make sure that there will be no brownouts during the period,” Fuentebella said.

“The critical period is from Feb. 13 to Feb. 17. Worst case scenario is yellow alert. But it’s a good thing we are interconnected with Visayas,” Fuentebella said.

Power plants that are expected to go on maintenance shutdown during the period include Calaca 1 (200 MW), Quezon Power Philippines Ltd. (450 MW) and Ilijan 1 (600 MW).

The San Gabriel natural gas plant will be running at a lower capacity of  414 MW, while Ilijan Block B will also run at a lower capacity of 420 MW.

The department also considered the possible forced outage of Sual unit 1 coal plant with a capacity of 642 MW.

“We have asked REMB [Renewable Energy Management Bureau] to look at renewables that are coming. We have also asked to include the ILP [interruptible load program participants],” Fuentebella said.

Fuentebella said two coal plants from the Visayas―Panay Energy Development Corp. and Palm Concepcion Power Corp.–could help ease the tight supply.

The department directed the 620-MW Malaya thermal power plant in Rizal to run during the shutdown while the 100-MW Avion open cycle natural gas-fired power plant in Batangas was also under commissioning to run on other fuel.

Fuentebella, however, said the Malaya power plant could not run on full load or only at 70 percent.

He said the department would coordinate with other agencies to inform the public of how to manage electricity consumption to lessen the impact of the possible price increase during the shutdown.

“My directive was clear, The Malampaya maintenance activities should pose no substantial impact to supply of electricity by using all available resources and remedies, because power is a basic necessity for our countrymen,” Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said earlier.

He said plans and alternative modes should be in place and ready before the actual shutdown.

“We have to ensure that the program works for Malampaya is within the prescribed schedule given to the DOE. Historically, Spex [Shell Philippines Exploration B.V.] completed its maintenance period on time. It is expected that it will do the same this time,” he said.