Plant shutdowns seen to trigger power rate hike

by Myrna Velasco, January 28, 2015
from Manila Bulletin

Customers of Manila Electric Company (Meralco) may start seeing hikes in their electricity bills this February billing because of several power plants on shutdown across weeks this January.

In an interview with reporters, Meralco President Oscar S. Reyes has noted that they have been monitoring the impact of the power plant shutdowns on the overall electricity rates for next month’s pass-on.

Oscar S. Reyes, Manila Bulletin

But Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla has qualified that some of the plant shutdowns – for 1,300 megawatts capacity – have been scheduled because they advanced required maintenance works prior to summer months. Of the total capacity currently out from the system, he noted that 660MW have been logged as forced outages.

Reyes noted that while many power plant owners and operators have been trying their best to achieve prudent operations, unforeseen circumstances could still snap some plants out of the system because these are already aging facilities.

As of this time, Petilla acknowledged that spikes in the load weighted average prices (LWAP) in the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) had already been observed, yet he is hoping that the secondary price cap could eventually temper the overall effect on the consumers’ electric bills.

As of January 27 – despite several power plants down, the system still held mainly due to relatively low demand.  On the high-demand hours on Tuesday though, system reserve was already observed thinning at 1,168 megawatts at 11:00 a.m.; 1,078 megawatts at 2 p.m.; and 1,243MW at 7 p.m.

Those on scheduled maintenance shutdowns are the 300-MW Unit 2 of Masinloc power facility; 300MW GNPower Unit 2; and the 460MW Quezon Power facility.

The facilities which suffered from unexpected breakdowns include the 300MW Malaya Unit 1 and 60MW Unit 6 of Limay plant due to high turbine vibration; 300MW Unit 2 of Malaya plant on main fuel heater leak; 27MW Tiwi 2 geothermal plant due to “low vacuum”; the 100MW Unit 8 of Limay plant and the 300MW Ilijan A-2 on “undetermined causes”.

The 300MW Unit 1 of Masinloc plant had also been on outage this month; as well as the San Lorenzo gas plant module 60 – but both generating facilities were already back on-line as of Monday (January 26).

The Masinloc unit was reported down due to “air heater trouble”; while the San Lorenzo plant unit had suffered outage for “planned rectification” at its burner number 8.

Meralco customers have been enjoying electricity cost reduction in successive months, but this February billing could just be the start of its pricey summer months.



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