By Myrna Velasco – June 1, 2018, 5:26 PM
from Manila Bulletin
Luzon grid has been plagued with series of ‘yellow alert conditions this week – a near-brownout scenario that clearly manifests lack of reserves that a prudent and reliable electricity system should have been striving to ensure.
While the thinning of reserves had not been descending into actual condition of blackouts, these are harbinger of things to come – that when needed capacities are not set on the system on time, it will not be far-fetched that the grid will eventually suffer power interruptions.
A “yellow alert” condition in the power grid has been raised from 12noon to 4:00pm on Friday (June 1), relatively stronger duration from the other ‘strained capacities’ experienced by the grid throughout the week.
System operator National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP explained that the strained operating reserves had been “brought about by higher system demand, forced outages and de-rated capacities of various power plants.”
The system operator added that a number of power generating facilities were still on maintenance shutdown within this period.
“Yellow alerts in the energy sector happen once in a while because our reserves are low, but it doesn’t mean that there’s already eminence of brownouts,” Energy Undersecretary Jesus Cristino P. Posadas has explained.
He added “the DOE is cognizant of the situation and we’re looking at increasing capacities. Our target by end of year 2022 is 10,000 megawatts and we already have committed capacities of more than 4,000 megawatts, but we need 5,000 megawatts more.”
Manila Electric Company (Meralco) spokesperson Joe Zaldarriaga noted that in such instances, they would always call on their interruptible loads to shore up supply in the system.
As of Friday, he emphasized that “58 accounts committed to participate in the interruptible load program totaling 109.06 megawatts in case the need arises.”
At yellow alert level, the grid still has supply but the reserves would already be at almost “drained level”. When the system is declared reaching “red alert”, that is the time that consumers would already be worrying over power interruptions.
Within this year, there had been several instances when Luzon grid suffered ‘yellow alert instances’ and most of those had resulted in higher rates for consumers.
Tight supply in the grid often triggers rate hike impacts, which industry players constantly monitor earnestly in the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market.
On a bigger scale, such scenarios also portend need for capacity additions in the entire system – which the government must address prudently to avoid more serious problems of blackouts in the long-term.