Luzon grid on ‘yellow alerts’ until June

by Myrna Velasco – April 16, 2017, 10:00 PM

from Manila Bulletin

Luzon grid will recurrently be in misery of “yellow alert conditions” or insufficient power reserves and even brownout threats from April until June, according to the modified power supply-demand outlook issued by system operator National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) after several power plants keeled over following the earthquake scourge in Batangas.

For the Filipinos, that entails double whammy of “endless wobbly electricity service or critically tight power supply” the rest of summer and highly probable spikes in their electric bills.

According to NGCP’s forecast, power supply will be precarious from April and will just start to ease after June 3 and towards the remaining weeks of this year’s first half.

Notably, that is a complete reverse of an earlier assurance that supply during the months of scorching weather would on the “sufficiently safe zone” – turning then as a “make-or-break spell” for those in charge of planning and assessing the country’s power supply-demand outlook.

So far, this year’s running peak demand had been recorded at 9,459 megawatts last March 24, but the projected peak is still anticipated to occur on the week of May 27 to June 02 at 9,870MW – that is also the period when available capacity creeps into razor-thin proportion.

It is likewise apparent in the NGCP data that Luzon grid will only be able to “avoid red alert” or rotating brownouts on these periods because the government will be running the 650-megawatt Malaya thermal power plant.

Nevertheless, state-run Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation  (PSALM) has to make known how long the Malaya plant could really last if it is being razed to the ground in supplying the grid – that is in terms of its technical capacity and also based on fuel inventory.

This protracted predicament of Luzon grid yellow alerts would be triggered by a combination of the simultaneous scheduled maintenance shutdown of power plants, the inoperability of a number of generating facilities after the earthquake; and extended forced outages of the other plants.

From April 3 until June 25, at least 13 power generating facilities would still be on scheduled downtime; while some plants taken out from the system post the Batangas disaster have yet to give timeframe on their re-synchronization to the grid.

Another impact of this power sector muddle that is difficult to explain to the public would be on consequent rate hikes – especially on these months when consumption would be peaking in many households because of the blistering weather.

Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi has given word that they are currently discussing with the operator of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) as well as with the other industry players on “mitigating measures pertaining to spikes in the price of power.”

While the government has its hands tied on such appalling condition, the energy chief at this time can only appeal to consumers “to use power wisely to help stabilize energy demand particularly during the summer season.”

Meanwhile,  post-Holy Week power supply may finally improve with the anticipated synchronization of the 600-megawatt Ilijan Block B gas-fired power generating unit as targeted morning  today (April17)

That has been the assurance given by plant operator Korea Electric Power Company (KEPCO) to the Department of Energy (DOE), as the latter calls on the immediate restoration of the earthquake-hit power facilities.