• Meralco addresses concerns raised over power outages


    I am writing you in response to the column of Ben Kritz entitled “Meralco goes to pieces,” which came out in your paper on August 11 where he harped on the outages that occurred last August 5, and suggested that these outages could have been mitigated had Meralco been more prepared.

    To put into context the concern of Mr. Kritz regarding the outages, the Luzon grid was on red alert that day due to the outages of several power plants. As a ditribution utility, Meralco could only distribute whatever available power is rationed by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).

    If there is deficiency in the Luzon Grid’s power supply, Meralco would have to make do with whatever capacity is available, and distribute it to its various customers across its franchise area. No less than the NGCP, which is the system operator, declared a red alert last August 5 and thereby, instructed Meralco to implement manual load droppings, i.e., rotating brownouts.

    Areas affected by rotating brownouts due to this supply deficiency included portions of Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Quezon, Quezon City, Caloocan City, Pasig City, Batangas City, Parañaque, and Manila City. These outages lasted anywhere from one to three hours. In terms of magnitude, this affected around 144,000 customers or 2.44% of its 5.91 million customers.

    To mitigate the impact that the supply deficiency might have on its customers, Meralco activated its demand-side management solution called the Interruptible Load Program {ILP). ILP works by calling on big customers to run their own generator sets, if needed, instead of drawing power from the grid. Last Friday, 201 customers participated in the ILP. Because of this, 775,000 customers (mostly residential customers) or 13% of its total customers were spared from rotating brownouts.

    Another cause of outages last August 5, as mentioned by Mr. Kritz in his column, was the severe weather condition that day. The number of customers affected by outages due to the inclement weather was around 142,000 or around 2.4% of Meralco’s total customers. Affected areas included isolated barangays in Candelaria, Tayabas, and Parang in Marikina, among others, with the outages lasting from 1 to 1.5 hours.

    With regard to Meralco’s preparations for possible trouble due to weather disturbances, Meralco has been continuously upgrading its facilities to make them more resilient against the forces of nature. Our lines, transformers and other facilities, for instance, undergo regular inspection and maintenance.

    On another matter that Mr. Kritz mentioned in his column, he suggested that Meralco’s Twitter account has been deluged with hundreds of queries, that it “appeared to be nothing less than a comprehensive collapse of Meralco’s grid.” Again, putting this into context, we received a total of 337 mentions and direct messages on Twitter related to these outages. That number is just a very small percentage of our 5.91 million customers. Nevertheless, as Mr. Kritz acknowledged in his column, Meralco treats every message from our customers with utmost importance. As such, we make sure that customer concerns and queries are addressed properly and in a timely manner.

    We hope we are able to clarify any misimpression in the public’s mind that may have been caused by the column of Mr. Kritz. More importantly, we do hope that Mr. Kritz was amply satisfied with the repair work our crew performed near his area, otherwise, we can always be called anytime to respond to any power-related concern. We also hope that you can publish this letter in the interest of fair play and transparency.

    Thank you.

    Respectfully yours,

    Joe R. Zaldarriaga
    Public Information Office


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