Insufficient power supply causes brownouts in Luzon

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SOME parts of Metro Manila experienced a rotating brownout on Friday as Luzon fell short of power supply due to the technical shutdown of a 375-megawatt power plant catering to the region’s electricity needs.

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National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), the country’s power grid operator, issued a “red alert” notice to its Luzon grid customers because of insufficient power supply brought about by the unplanned outages of certain power plants.

The unit 1 of Pagbilao plant in Quezon, which provides Luzon 375 megawatts of power capacity, had bogged down at 2:28 p.m. due to technical problems.

“Pagbilao unit 1 went on an emergency shutdown at 2:28 p.m. today [Friday] due to main turbine Governor Valve 2 mechanical failure. Estimate for it to be back online between five to six days,” said TeaM Energy external affairs department head Froilan Gregory Romualdez III in a text message. TeaM Energy is the facility operator of the Pagbilao plants.

“All efforts are being undertaken to lessen downtime and have the unit back online as soon as possible,” he added.

As a result, the available capacity in Luzon during the peak hours from 2-4 p.m. on Friday went down at 8,139 MW, with a power demand higher at 8,403 MW.

The one-hour rotating brownout was felt in some parts of Luzon until 5 p.m. because of this.

“There is a tentative one hour rotating brownout due to a power supply deficiency affecting portions of Manila, Quezon City, Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Marilao, Bulacan,” said Manila Electric. Co., the country’s biggest power distributor.

Joe Zaldarriaga, Meralco’s corporate communications manager, specified in that the rotating power interruption lasted until 5 p.m. due to insufficient supply.

In a separate text message, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla said no power interruption should be felt in Luzon starting this weekend as another power plant, which went offline last Tuesday, is set to come online today (Saturday).

“Sual coal-fired power plant should be back by tomorrow [Saturday] morning so [the supply in]weekend will not be a problem,” Petilla said.

“For next week, we will be experiencing the hottest time of the month. The supply situation will depend on the reliability of running plants.

There should be no brownout if they don’t bog down,” he added, specifying that power reserves should come from Sual.

An NGCP official said the power supply will remain tight on the coming days unless the Pagbilao plant comes online.

The P31-billion expansion of the Pagbilao plant, involving additional capacity of 400-MW, is currently being pushed through.

Aboitiz Power Corporation (AboitizPower), through Therma Power, Inc. (TPI), entered into a joint venture agreement with TPEC Holdings Corp. for the development, construction and operation of the 400 MW Pagbilao

Unit III through Pagbilao Energy Corporation (PEC).

PEC is a jointly developed by Aboitiz Power and Team Energy, a joint venture of Japanese firms Marubeni Corporation and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO).

Late last year, it was already reported that Team Energy is mulling over the expansion of the 735-megawatt (MW) Pagbilao coal-fired plant in Quezon, which involves an investment cost of $700 million or approximately P31 billion.

To finance the construction of Pagbilao Unit III, an omnibus agreement is being secured with a consortium of lender-banks to obtain loans and credit accommodations in the amount of up to P33.309 billion.

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