Luzon power supply hits 'negative' level

Published June 2, 2021, 4:35 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

The Luzon grid is running on “negative” power supply.

This was Department of Energy (DoE) Spokesperson Felix William Fuentebella’s blunt admission Wednesday, June 2, as the country’s northern islands entered its third consecutive day this week under “red alert” status.

(Photo from DOE Facebook page)

“Nakakalungkot na ibalita natin na hindi lang siya manipis kung hindi negative na. ibig sabihin, mas marami na ang nangangailangan ng kuryente at mas kaunti na iyong puwedeng magbigay na generators (It saddens me to say that the power supply is not just thin, it’s already in the negative. This means that the demand for power has outstripped the production of power generators),” Fuentebella said in an interview during the Laging Handa press briefing.

“Ito ay dahilan sa mga nasisira at hindi umaandar, na biglaang tumitirik na mga power plant. So, makikita natin na negative na po tayo nang lampas ng 200 megawatts (This is due to the broken or non-running power plants, those that suddenly went out of commission. We are currently over negative 200 megawatts [MW]),” he said.

A status update from the Department of Energy (DOE) Wednesday said showed that the total projected available capacity for the day in the Luzon grid was 11,260 MW. In comparison, the projected system peak demand was expected to reach 11,515 MW.

“During this period, the highest possible level of load that will be dropped from the system is around 716 MW,” the DOE said.

Load dropping, or manual load dropping (MLD) to be exact, is the term used by DOE to refer to power interruptions. These have manifested in the form of rotational brownouts in Luzon, including Metro Manila.

The Luzon grid is operated by private firm National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).

To maintain system balance and ensure that the available power is well-distributed , Fuentebella said NGCP decides which areas in Luzon would be placed under rotational brownouts.

“Every hour naglalabas po ng report at tinitingnan iyan ng Department of Energy iyan (A report is released every hour and the Department of Energy looks at it),” he said.

He said the DOE wants to know what happened to the NGCP’s supposed power reserves.

“Binabantayan din natin ang system operator…dahil hinahanap parati ni [DOE] Secretary [Alfonso] Cusi kung nasaan iyong reserba dahil ang power plant ay para pong gulong ng kotse. Kapag napa-flat iyong iba eh dapat mayroon kang reserba. So, hinahanap din natin iyon (We are also keeping tabs on the system operator…Secretary Cusi always looks for the reserve power, because power plants are like tires of car. If you get a flat tire then you should have a reserve tire. So we’re looking for that),” he said.