Mindanao power body responds to supply shortfall PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 08 March 2014 13:13

A power monitoring body created to initiate immediate and long term steps to address the power situation in Mindanao has recommended quick measures to bridge power supply deficit resulting from the unscheduled shutdown of 210 megawatts (MW) Steag coal-fired power plant.

In a meeting called last Friday to assess the situation and determine the cause of the February 27 island-wide blackout, the Mindanao Power Monitoring Committee (MPMC) sought the immediate dispatch of capacities from embedded generators of distribution utilities, including newly-installed modular gensets of several electric cooperatives.

“We find it viable to quickly resolve the supply deficit by tapping what is already available in the system, as measures are being exerted to restore affected power plants back online,” said Secretary Luwalhati Antonino, chair of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA), which also heads the MPMC.

The MPMC had asked private distribution utilities (DUs) to run its embedded capacities such as diesel generators, even as it requested the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to judiciously accelerate provisional approval of pending rate applications for modular gensets that have already been installed.

It also asked DUs and electric cooperatives distribution to urge large commercial establishments and industries to implement demand-side management measures such as adjustment of operating schedules for processing and manufacturing plants and to opt-in for Interruptible Load Program (ILP), a mechanism where large establishments such as malls and factories run their generator sets instead of tapping from the grid and are allowed to recover cost.

Antonino stressed that the recent system downtime affecting large capacities should be immediately resolved, in light of the approaching onset of summer months when Agus-Pulangi hydroelectric power complex would be expected to have reduced output.

“I understand that the cause of the problem that triggered series of plant trip-offs is still being determined, but such assessment should be done quickly so that corrective actions are put in place to prevent recurrence,” she said.

The Mindanao system-wide blackout happened at dawn of February 27 when a series power plant trip-offs or automatic shutdown triggered a system-wide blackout across the entire Mindanao grid.

According to initial findings of the Department of Energy (DOE), a malfunction of Agus 1 hydropower plant unit set-off automatic shutdown that cascaded to several other power plants that put offline around 1200MW supply to the Mindanao grid.

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) has restored stability by noontime of same day, with the system blackout regarded as technical in nature. However, despite system restoration, the 210MW Steag coal-fired power plant remained offline after its plant units 1 and 2 sustained damage to its turbine generating sets.

Steag is still assessing the extent of damage and expects to provide timeline for resumption of plant operations once assessment is completed.

Initial technical evaluation indicates Steag may need a substantial amount of time to restore two plant units back online.

According to the DOE, the Steag downtime has brought restoration of Mindanao power supply to only about 80 to 85 percent.