Power industry re-assessing ‘critical points’ in Luzon electricity supply

by Myrna Velasco, 30 March 2015
from Manila Bulletin

With the shutdown of the Malampaya gas production facility still up for completion by mid-April and the feared rolling brownouts not exactly happening, the players in the power industry are warranted to re-assess the next critical periods on Luzon grid’s electricity supply.

According to industry sources, the next dates being monitored will be from April 5 to 15 which will then mark the return of many Filipinos from their Holy Week break.

Additionally, even if the maintenance activity and platform tie-in process at the Malampaya gas facility will wind up on April 13, it is being anticipated that technical glitches may still have spillover effect several days after.

So far, Luzon’s biggest power utility Manila Electric Company (Meralco) had not advised of any rotating power interruptions since the downtime of the gas facility last March 15.

According to Meralco vice president Lawrence S. Fernandez, the distribution company has not called on any self-generating facility (SGF) yet to de-load from the system under the ambit of the government-sanctioned interruptible load program or ILP.

He stressed that so far no ILP participant had been   tapped to run their gensets this year “apart from the dry runs” mandated by the Department of Energy.

This was in contrast to last year’s ILP de-loading  call on self-gens on at least three instances — when supply in the system breached ‘red alert condition’ or the status when the grid supply is severely strained and had already been inching close to rotating brownouts.

Even Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla has been raising confidence that Luzon may be able to surpass the Malampaya shutdown weeks without power interruptions.

For the lack of brownout incidents pestering electricity consumers in Luzon, it is worth noting that some media members had been scouring and labeling all sorts of outages as blackouts or brownouts – including the daily line repairs of Meralco and all sorts of ‘localized power outages” or the manner in which one barangay or street could be disturbed in their electricity service due to scheduled repair works.

It was culled from the data of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) that system reserve had been continuously at prudent level in the past weeks –at some instances even reaching a high of 1,600 to roughly 2,000 megawatts.

The next focus of discussion between the industry players and government policy-framers and regulators would be on whether or not the propounded emergency powers for President Aquino to resolve summer electricity supply would still be needed.

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