Power alert in Luzon

Iris Gonzales - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - A unit of the Masinloc coal-fired power plant in Zambales broke down yesterday, fueling concerns over possible blackouts in Luzon this summer due to tight power supply.

The Luzon power grid was placed on yellow alert after Unit 2 of the 600-megawatt power plant went on an emergency shutdown at 7:53 a.m. because of a boiler tube leak, affecting 300 MW, according to the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP).

Mylene Capongcol, Department of Energy (DOE) Electric Power Industry Management Bureau director, said it would take up to three days before the Masinloc plant goes back online.

Boiler tube leaks are problems encountered by plant boilers and their super heater pipes as a result of wear and tear because of erosion and corrosion during use.

“We are on yellow alert until Wednesday. We expect supply to normalize on Thursday because of the Holy Week break,” NGCP spokesperson Cynthia Perez-Alabanza told reporters.

She said Luzon was on yellow alert during peak hours or from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. yesterday and today. The projected peak demand yesterday was 7,430 MW as against available capacity of 7,885 MW.

A yellow alert status means that contingency reserves are below the minimum level set by the regulator, but does not necessarily mean power outages or blackouts. A red alert means there is severe power deficiency while normal alert means there are no deficiencies in supply and reserves. A white alert means the situation is back to normal.


24-hour shutdown

The emergency shutdown of Masinloc came after a scheduled maintenance shutdown of the Malampaya natural gas facility for 24 hours starting today.

“Malampaya will go on 24-hour shutdown. By Thursday or Wednesday evening, we will lose another 600 MW but usually Thursday and holidays we have low consumption,” Petilla said in a television interview.

The Malampaya gas restriction will cut the output of the Ilijan natural gas power plant to 600 MW from 1,200 MW.

Several other power plants are either on extended maintenance or forced outage.

These include Unit 2 of the Consunji Group’s Calaca Power Plant in Batangas, affecting 300 MW. The plant is on extended scheduled maintenance shutdown until May 1; GN Power’s Unit 1, affecting 326 MW, which is on forced outage from April 5 to 19; Unit 2 of Limay Plant, affecting 70 MW, which has been down since Feb. 28 as well as Unit 6 of the plant, which has been out since April; and Unit 2 of the Pagbilao Plant in Quezon, affecting 382 MW from April 7 to 17, according to data from NGCP.

Enough supply

Meanwhile, NGCP has assured the public that there will be enough power supply this summer.

Lilibeth Gaydowen, North Luzon regional corporate communications and public affairs officer, said the country’s power transmission service provider has stable supply to meet the demands of electricity consumers.

The NGCP is transmitting power supply from all available sources, she added.

She said the forecasted demand in Luzon has increased, but they are utilizing various sources to meet the needs of consumers and address the problem of power outage.

However, Gaydowen said the public is advised to observe safety precautions when dealing with the power firm’s transmission structures to avoid accidents.

“Do not build a fire near or build houses under the transmission structures since fire could cause power interruptions in your area. Report to NGCP any incident of leaning and damaged poles or towers and sagging power lines,” she said.

She also warned against kite flying near transmission lines as well as climbing transmission structures. – With Artemio Dumlao











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