NGCP raises Luzon grid to ‘yellow alert’

After the unwarranted blackout incidents in some parts of Metro Manila and neighboring provinces over the weekend, the major power grid of Luzon was still wobbling into "yellow alert" or tight supply condition as of Monday, June 20, as several power plants suffered forced outages.

System operator National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) declared ‘yellow alert’ status for Luzon grid from 1:00 to 3:00pm on Monday, as the grid’s operating margin had fallen to 533 megawatts, which is way below the power reserves needed by the system to operate reliably at any given time.

The power plants that had been reported on unscheduled shutdowns were Unit 1 of the Southwest Luzon Power Generation Corporation (SLPGC) at 150MW; SLPGC Units 3 and 4 at 50MW capacity each; Sem-Calaca Power Corporation unit 2 with 300MW; and the two generating units of Mariveles coal plant at a total capacity of 632MW.

As specified by the transmission firm, the available capacity in the grid yesterday hovered at 12,451MW; while the demand had been at 11,456MW; hence, manifesting that there was really extreme tightness in supply to the grid.

On the brownouts that afflicted Luzon grid late afternoon of Saturday due to tripping of transmission lines, the Department of Energy (DOE) had immediately instructed NGCP “to immediately resolve the transmission line issues, and explain the details of the incident.”

The facilities which tripped had been the BCCP-Hermosa 230 kilovolt (kV) lines 1 and 2; which resulted in power interruptions in some areas served by Manila Electric Company (Meralco) and it has also isolated power plants sited in Bataan.

Meralco stated that the weekend incident affected at least 1.6 million of its customers with power service interruptions or momentary brownouts – including those in Caloocan, Valenzuela, Malabon, Manila, Makati, Muntinlupa, Las Pinas, Marikina, Taguig and Navotas in Metro Manila; as well as some subscribers in Bulacan, Rizal, Laguna, Batangas and Cavite.

The energy department indicated that it will coordinate with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) in addressing the ‘red alert’ condition that tormented consumers last weekend; as well as the continuing ‘yellow alert’ state of the biggest power grid.

The regulatory body, for its part, asserted that it will “wait for the reports on the causes of the incident” and will pursue its evaluation from the eventual findings that it can unearth from those occurrences in the grid.

Apart from soaring oil and gas prices, the ‘highly insecure’ state of power supply in the country is seen as the biggest problem that the Energy Secretary of the Marcos administration will need to fix immediately, especially if the government is serious on its bid to entice more investments in the country.