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Investigation looms after six power plants declare outages

THE Department of Energy (DoE) called on the Energy Regulatory Commission to investigate the forced outages or limited production at six power plants which caused yellow alerts, and, briefly, a red alert, to be raised over the Luzon grid on Monday.

On Monday, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) twice placed the Luzon grid on yellow alert after outages removed 2,648 megawatts (MW) worth of supply from the grid.

The DoE said that power plants that went on forced outages were Calaca 2 and Sta. Rita Module 20 in Batangas; GNPower Mariveles 1 in Bataan; Sual 1 in Pangasinan; Masinloc 3 in Zambales; and San Buenaventura in Quezon.

“We anticipate that the Energy Regulatory Commission will also look into the root of this to prevent similar occurrence,” the DoE said in a statement.

In an advisory, the NGCP declared a yellow alert for the 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. period and again for the 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. period. The grid operator said that the capacity available on Monday was 11,750 MW, against peak demand of about 10,437 MW. 

The NGCP initially declared a red alert for the 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. period but withdrew it at 11:30 a.m. after Sual 1 and Masinloc 3 came back online.

Yellow alerts are declared when supply available to the grid falls below a designated safety threshold. If the supply-demand balance deteriorates to below an adequate supply of power, a red alert is declared, warning consumers of rolling brownouts.

“We assure the public that there appears to be no fuel constraints. Some of these generating plants are on forced outage caused by power plant tripping,” Energy Secretary Raphael P.M. Lotilla said.

Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) said it put interruptible load program (ILP) participants on standby for possible activation after the NGCP alert.

ILP participants are large power users that have their own generating facilities. These entities stop drawing power from the grid for a time, tapping their own power plants for their needs, reducing the overall load on the grid. 

“As of 11:30 a.m., we had 346.40 MW of committed de-loading capacity under the ILP,” Meralco said in a statement.

Meralco said that it currently monitoring the situation and is ready to implement manual load dropping or rotating power interruptions if instructed by NGCP. — Ashley Erika O. Jose