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5 power plants conk out

  • May 10, 2023
Philippine Star News

Five power plants went on forced outages while three others ran on de-rated capacity, leaving the Luzon grid short of 1,354 megawatts for some six hours and causing power interruptions in many areas yesterday, according to the Department of Energy (DOE).

The DOE said the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) put the Luzon grid under red alert following the tripping of the Bolo-Masinloc 230-kilovolt line 2, which led to the tripping of the Masinloc Units 1 and 2 with a capacity of 618 megawatts.

The red alert notice was in effect from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

A red alert status is issued when power supply is insufficient to meet consumer demand and the transmission grid's regulating requirement, while a yellow alert is issued when the operating margin is insufficient to meet the transmission grid's regulating and contingency requirement.

A yellow alert does not necessarily lead to power outages, while a red alert can lead to rotating power interruptions.

The NGCP said the Luzon grid had an available capacity of 12,186 megawatts and a peak demand of 12,468 MW.

The DOE said the reduced generation supply in Luzon affected export to the Visayas grid, which resulted in the declaration of a yellow alert from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

'As the situation emanated from a transmission line tripping, the DOE has instructed the NGCP to explain within 24 hours the circumstances that caused the outages,' the department said.

Meanwhile, the DOE said NGCP - as system operator - declared a suspension of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) in the Luzon grid following the declaration of red and yellow alerts.

'The suspension of the WESM will effectively shield the public from volatile prices that may arise from the unavailability of some power plants,' it said.

The Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), which provides electric service to 7.7 million customers, said it implemented manual load dropping or rotating power interruptions of up to two hours in parts of its franchise area as instructed by the NGCP, and as part of the company's responsibility to manage the system.

The power distributor said it was able to fully restore electricity service to its more than 300,000 affected customers by 3:45 p.m. yesterday.

Areas affected were Las Piñas, Makati, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Parañaque, Pasig, Quezon City and Taguig in Metro Manila; Angono, Antipolo, Binangonan, Cainta, Cardona and Taytay in Rizal and Bacoor, Dasmariñas and Imus in Cavite.

The DOE said that in coordination with Meralco, the participants to the Interruptible Load Program (ILP) have de-loaded to manage the supply and minimize interruptions to other customers.

The ILP is an energy demand-side management program through which large-load customers are asked to use their generator sets or reduce their operations, instead of drawing power from the grid.

The move aims to spare households from power interruptions during instances of red alert or when supply is insufficient to meet the demand.

Following yesterday's power interruptions, the DOE reiterated its call on the public to exercise energy efficiency and conservation through judicious use of electricity, especially during peak hours.

The DOE earlier forecast a total of 15 weeks under yellow alert status in 2023 and none under red alert.

Higher rates

Meanwhile, Meralco said rates in its franchise areas are likely to rise this month on higher generation charge.

'There is an upward pressure on electricity bills this month, mainly due to the expected increase in the generation charge,' Meralco spokesman and vice president for corporate communications Joe Zaldarriaga said yesterday.

He said higher demand drove prices in the WESM in the last supply month.

Data provided earlier by the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines showed that average WESM prices for Luzon and the Visayas rose to P7.68 per kilowatt-hour as of April 23, 2023 from P6.57 per kwh in the March billing period as a result of the increase in average demand.

'Peso depreciation, which affects our power supply agreements and independent power producer contracts, may also weigh on the generation charge,' Zaldarriaga said.

He said this month's generation charge would also include the last installment of deferred costs last March, equivalent to around P0.20 per kwh.

The generation charge, which accounts for more than half of the power bill, is the cost of power generated and sold to distribution utilities by generation companies under power supply agreements or through the WESM, which the utilities then supply to their customers.

It is a pass-through charge paid to the power suppliers, as Meralco only earns from distribution, supply and metering charges.

Meralco's generation costs are usually influenced by the exchange rate, the supply-demand situation and its effect on WESM prices and international fuel prices.

'In addition, this month's bills will reflect the P0.0433 per kwh increase in Universal Charge for Missionary Electrification as ordered by the Energy Regulatory Commission,' Zaldarriaga said.

'Meralco's distribution charge, however, remains unchanged since the reduction in August 2022,' he added.

Last month, Meralco rates went down by almost 12 centavos per kwh despite an expected increase initially.

The rate reduction was a result mainly of lower generation charge, which was enough to offset the collection of the first installment of deferred generation costs equivalent to around P0.20 per kwh for the April billing period.


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