2nd week of March critical, power outages loom

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THE power situation in Luzon is entering its critical stage starting the second week of March, posing possible outages, according to the Department of Energy (DOE).

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Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said over the weekend that based on their projection, there will be power shortfall of at least 200 megawatts (MW).

“Based on our projection, you have a deficit of 200 MW [worst-case scenario], supply-demand etc.,” Petilla told reporters.

He said if the Interruptible Load Program (ILP) will be running smoothly, the deficit will be covered.

Petilla added that if the projected demand, supply and forced outages (631 MW) will not change, there will be no brownouts.

If, however, the forced outages go way beyond 631 MW, he said, the Luzon grid will experience brownouts.

The DOE has projected a shortfall because of the one-month shutdown of the Malampaya natural gas facility in northwest Palawan that will start in mid-March.

It is compounded by scheduled repair of some power plants.

Besides these outages, the DOE blamed the possible deficit on delays in construction of new power plants .

It noted that the new power plants have failed to join the Luzon grid in time because of opposition from certain sectors and court injunctions.

Alongside the Malampaya shutdown is the scheduled maintenance work on the 200-megawatt Ilijan combined cycle power plant in Batangas run by the Korea Electric Power Corp. (Kepco).

The DOE said the Luzon grid does not have enough reserves to offset the scheduled shutdowns of power plants and that the electricity demand is seen to increase during summer.

Petilla said although they are aiming for a zero brownout this summer, the worst scenario is that Luzon will experience rotating brownouts during the critical period.

“If power plants simultaneously shut down and we usually consume more electricity during summer, the worst-case scenario is we might have rotating brownouts,” he added.

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