LUZON GRID Electricity Supply SHORTAGES Lead to RED ALERT, BROWNOUTS

MERALCO POWER.jpg

During the Philippine summer season, ranging from March to June, there almost always seems to be something wrong happening with the country’s power supply. There are a number of reasons for this. Either the weather is too hot that water levels for dams and other hydroelectric plants fail to produce enough electricity stored in the power grid. Or, the dry weather allows electric companies to do maintenance or overhauls with their power plants, shutting them down during the duration. The latter factor has been responsible for a recent electrical shortage in Luzon. First the alert level was yellow. Now it has gone to full red.

The Manila Bulletin has it that the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) has placed the alert level for reserve electricity in the Luzon Power Grid to red. Electricity consumers in Luzon must prepare to bit the bullet as the shortage of revere power will necessitate a succession of rolling brownouts in the northern part of the Philippines. This includes the area covered by Meralco in Metro Manila. Schedules for possible rolling brownouts this Wednesday, April 10, runs at 11 AM, and from 2 PM to 4 PM, but only if there is no reserve left on the grid.

Blame can be laid at the near-mass outages of various power plants in Luzon. These include the Consunji South Luzon Power Generation Corp. Unit 2, the Aboitiz-Team Energy Philippines coal plant at Pagbilao, and the Malaya thermal plant Unit 2. And that does not even include the “down-rated” plants that, while not currently shut down, have had their generation reduced for various reasons. NGCP records hold that the out power plants cost the Luzon grid a capacity of around 1,702MW, while down-rating of other facilities added further losses of 270MW.

With the iffy levels of reserve power, the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) had its per-kilowatt-hour rating of P3.50-3.90 go up by more than double. At present the rate is now playing at P8.80 per KW-h. If the red alert conditions continue the WESM sees their rating climb even higher than it already has, adding to the irony most hated by Filipino electricity consumers: higher power bills when the service is not doing well. The Department of Energy (DoE) kept silent about the Luzon grid status, only assuring the public that the power supply will be kept at just enough. Meralco meanwhile is still determining if the Luzon grid woes will affect its Metro Manila reserves, and will make further announcements on the situation later.

Image courtesy of CNN Philippines

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