Palace not ruling out more Metro brownouts

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Workers check a power line in Baseco, Manila on Saturday, a day after several areas in Metro Manila endured rotating brownouts because of the unexpected shutdown of the Pagbilao power plant. Rene H. Dilan

Workers check a power line in Baseco, Manila on Saturday, a day after several areas in Metro Manila endured rotating brownouts because of the unexpected shutdown of the Pagbilao power plant. Rene H. Dilan

One power plant was back online on Saturday and another that broke down on Friday is being repaired as the government scrambled to stabilize electricity supply after a series of brownouts hit parts of Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

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Malacanang said the Sual plant in Pangasinan, which went off the grid on Tuesday, resumed operations on Saturday.

The Sual plant contributes 1,200 megawatts to the Luzon grid.

Repair work, meanwhile, began on the Pagbilao plant in Quezon, which was shut down by a mechanical problem on Friday, triggering the outages.

Still, the power outlook for this week remains shaky, as Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said the 375-megawatt Pagbilao plant will take a week to fully repair.

Valte said there will be no brownouts this week unless another plant breaks down.

“There was a decreased demand for electricity last night and they expect this to continue this weekend. Based on those projections, it looks like there won’t be power interruptions as long as other power plants won’t suffer any breakdown,” Valte said in a radio interview.

She said the government is working to address the power problem so that any plant that goes off line is immediately repaired.

“Once a [power]plant goes on emergency shutdown, we immediately address it to make sure that it goes back online as soon as possible,” Valte said.

Valte said the National Power Corp. (Napocor) is also closely watching the water levels in key dams and coordinating with other government agencies in carrying out cloud seeding to induce rain.

The dropping levels in the reservoirs will also affect the power supply since some plants are powered by water from dams.

The Manila Electric Company (Meralco) said big commercial establishments like malls that signed up for the government’s Interruptible Load Program (ILP) used their own generators on Friday, helping ease the tight power supply.

“To help mitigate the situation, participating establishments under the ILP volunteered to reduce their consumption by running their own generator sets, instead of sourcing their power directly from Meralco, so that household customers will continue to have power,” Meralco said.

Under the program, private companies with generators can turn them on instead of tapping power distributors.

In turn, the authorities will pay the establishments for the fuel and oil used in running the generators and for their depreciation.

Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla has said a total of 2,000 MW could be available under the ILP, but the Department of Energy will only tap about 500 MW from the participating establishments.

He said the government will be relying on the program to address the supply deficiency in Luzon until new power plants start operations in 2015.

With PNA

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