Plant shutdowns leave large power supply gap in Luzon

Iris Gonzales (The Philippine Star) - January 22, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Luzon grid now lacks a total of 2,532 megawatts in power capacity due to both unplanned and scheduled shutdowns of several power plants since last year.

According to industry data, eight power plants are out, with some units on unplanned outage and some on scheduled maintenance shutdowns.

Those that are on unplanned outage are Limay 6 in Bataan, with 60 MW unavailable since March 27, 2014 due to high turbine vibration; Limay 8 in Bataan with 100 MW unavailable since April 24 due to undermined cause, Malaya 2 in Rizal with 350 MW unavailable since Sept. 11 due to main fuel heater leak, GN Power 1 in Quezon with 300 MW unavailable since Oct. 26 due to actuation of generator fault protection; Tiwi 2 in Albay with 27 MW unavailable since Dec. 17 due to low vacuum, Ilijan A with 300 MW unavailable since Dec. 23 due to a damaged compressor turbine and the BacMan in Bicol with 20 MW unavailable since Jan. 18, 2015 due to still undetermined cause.

The plants on scheduled outage are GN Power 2 in Quezon with 300 MW unavailable since Dec. 30, 2014 due to maintenance activities, which are scheduled to be completed in March 2015; Masinloc 2 in Pangasinan with 315 MW unavailable since Jan. 1 because of its annual maintenance outage and which is scheduled for completion on Jan. 30; the Quezon Power plant with 460 MW unavailable since Jan. 17 also on maintenance outage and scheduled for completion on Feb.25 and Malaya 1 in Rizal, which is scheduled to be completed in July 2015.

Some of the country’s power plants have to go on maintenance shutdowns more often than expected because many of these plants are already old, some of which are more than 50 years old.

Despite the shutdowns, the Luzon grid remains on normal or white status because of lower demand on the back of the cold weather. As of yesterday, the grid had a system capacity of 8,548 MW and demand of 7,147 MW or reserves of 1,401 MW.

For the summer, however, the grid is facing a tight power supply situation with demand expected to go up due to the warmer temperature.

To address the issue, President Aquino has asked Congress for special powers to tap additional supply but Congress has yet to grant the request.

The primary option being eyed to address the problem is the so-called Interruptible Load Program (ILP) wherein large power users will use their own generating capacities to ease demand from the grid especially this summer when there is a projected power deficit of 700 MW.

The House of Representatives has already passed its version of a joint resolution granting President Aquino special powers to tap additional supply but the Senate has yet to pass its own version.

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