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Public warned anew: Power outage possible during summer, including election day

  • Mar 30, 2022
Philippine Star News

Manila-based policy group Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) repeated its projections on Wednesday that power interruptions may take place during the second quarter of the year, which includes the critical elections day on May 9, if coal-fired power plants continue to stay offline.

The group echoed the findings of its previous report- released last month- that the Luzon power grid may experience rotating "blackouts", even as the grid operator said in its summer power outlook that will be "sufficient, but thin reserves" in the months leading to elections and afterwards.

"From NGCP's (National Grid Corp. of the Philippines') official power outlook, the thin operating reserves will start on the 3rd week of April 2022 until the last week of May 2022. If the baseload coal plants continue to be on shutdown during this critical period, the forced outages could deplete the thin operating reserve and could trigger rotating blackouts," ICSC Chief Data Scientist Jephraim Manansala said during a virtual briefing on Wednesday.

Blackouts will take place if operating reserves- or power in excess of demand- go below the grid's requirements.

Manansala said that several coal plants, such as the 300-megawatt (MW) Calaca Unit 2 and 123-MW SLTEC Unit 2, are still on shutdown up until today.

"We have also seen plenty of them (the power plants) to have already exceeded the ERC's (Energy Regulatory Commission's) mandated allowable days of outages...We've seen plants which still experience unplanned outages just a few weeks after their scheduled maintenance," he explained.

Manansala, on Wednesday, noted that targeted date of commercial operations of the GN Power Dinginin (GNPD) coal-fired plant's second unit "appears to not be feasible", considering its first unit almost took ten months to complete its commissioning or testing stage.

If coal-fired power plants continued to operate unreliably, this will lead to the shutdown of the electrical power system and the political power system.

ICSC's senior policy advisor Pedro Maniego Jr. earlier said that the unreliable supply of power will undermine the credibility of the May 2022 polls.

Stable power is required to transmit polling data.

Grid placed on yellow alert

On March 26, the NGCP placed the Luzon grid on yellow alert from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. as five coal power plants went on forced outages and four others ran on de-rated capacities, shaving off a total of 2,834 MW from the grid.

At 11 p.m., the grid operator lifted the grid's yellow alert status.

The NGCP issues a yellow alert when power reserves are below the minimum level. This is further downgraded to red alert when the supply-demand situation worsens.

In a statement about the yellow alert, Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso Cusi said that even if the largest power plant in grid went offline, "there was still enough capacity in the system as it did not result to any power interruption."

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