Malaya plant can’t be relied upon to supply electricity this summer

by Myrna Velasco, January 27, 2015
from Manila Bulletin

The start of bad news for Luzon power supply – the 650-megawatt Malaya thermal power plant cannot be counted upon for capacity shoring up during the critical months of summer.

This was tipped off by an energy official, noting that the targeted “overhaul of the plant is not yet completed.”

The Malampaya gas platform offshore of Palawan

A check from the ground operations of the plant has confirmed the information, and it was validated that the plant “cannot be relied upon during the Malampaya shutdown.”

The shutdown of the Malampaya gas production facility is scheduled from mid-March and it will last for a month. That will also be the period when electricity supply tightening is expected because some gas-fed plants may run on constrained capacity.

When the contract award for the overhaul of one unit of the Malaya plant was consummated, it was no less than Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) President Emmanuel R. Ledesma Jr. who indicated that the repair “can still be completed in March, 2015 or 90 days from commencement of works.” The notice to proceed on the overhaul work was issued December 2 last year.

The deal for the generation unit’s repair had been awarded to Korean firm STX Marine Service Co. Ltd., which is also the current operation and maintenance (O&M) contractor of the facility.

The Malaya plant has two units of more than 300MW each, but Unit 1 had been placed on shutdown mode since last year because of “extreme high vibration” technical distress on its turbine.

The suggestion of the plant engineers had been for the plant to undergo “overhaul”. This was a decision arrived at since August of last year, but procurement process on the repair plan just came later.

The Malaya plant has critical function in the Luzon grid as it has been formally designated as a must-run unit (MRU) that system operator National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) could call upon for dispatch once supply levels would breach “yellow alert” or close to having shortage in supply that could trigger brownouts.

PSALM was fiercely prodded by industry stakeholders and even the lawmakers for it to accelerate the overhaul of the Malaya plant so it can be depended upon for summer supply – but to no avail.

At this stage, the firm solution set on the table to beef up summer power supply will be tapping the self-generating facilities for the interruptible load program (ILP) so that when they curtail load, the grid could have more capacity to deliver to other end-users. (MMV)

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