• Power rate hike looms

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    ELECTRICITY rates may again go up because of the lower output of the Malampaya gas plant, the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) warned on Tuesday.

    Joe Zaldarriaga, Meralco public information manager, said the 24-hour Malampaya restriction could result in higher generation cost in June.

    “We can’t give an estimate at this point. We still have a few days in the supply month to go,” he told The Manila Times in a text message.

    The Malampaya natural gas plant supplies 35 percent to 40 percent of Luzon’s energy requirements. The facility provides natural gas to the 1,200-megawatt (MW) Ilijan; 1,000-MW Sta. Rita; and 500-MW San Lorenzo natural gas power plants in Batangas.

    The three plants, in turn, supply power to Meralco, the country’s largest power distributor.

    The Department of Energy (DOE) on Monday confirmed that the Malampaya natural gas facility started a 24-hour restriction in its output on Sunday.

    Because of the limited supply, the 1,200-megawatt capacity of Ilijan power plant was reduced to 611 megawatts, Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said.

    Various modules of the San Lorenzo and Sta. Rita power plants have also shifted from natural gas to a much expensive liquid fuel to continue generating power supply.

    Petilla is still awaiting details from Shell Philippines Exploration (SPEX), the operator of Malampaya, regarding the limited supply of the natural gas plant.

    Despite the reduced output of the Malampaya plant, Petilla is confident that there will be no brownouts in the remaining days of the summer season.

    “The power supply is good. We have enough reserve in contingency and even dispatchable at times,” he told reporters.

    He said the power reserve could be up to more than 647 megawatts (MW), enough to ensure a steady power supply in the region.

    Petilla said chances of power plants shutting down from June to July period are “very low” since most of them already underwent maintenance work.

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