Friday, February 12, 2010

El Nino phenomenon threatens black outs in Mindanao


BY JOEL ESCOL
Executive Editor

A top official of an electric coop in Mindanao confirmed yesterday to this paper the impending power curtailment in Mindanao due to the onset of another El Nino phenomenon.

Clint Django Pacana, manager of the Association of Mindanao Rural Electric Cooperatives (AMRECO) said many power coop members are now preparing for the coming of drought in the island which would eventually result in continues power curtailments.

He said most power coop members are dependent on hydroelectric power plants and because of the threatening dry season their member-electric coops will be affected...

In a press statement furnished to this paper by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines it said that hydroelectric power plants in Mindanao have reduced generation by at least 50% of their total capacity due to low water inflow of Lake Lanao and Pulangi River because of the onset of the dry spell. 

Generating capacity is anticipated to remain insufficient with the unavailability of Agus 5 (Units 1 & 2), the Mindanao Coal Fired Power Plant (Unit 2) and the Iligan Diesel Power Plant. The Western Mindanao Power Corporation’s power plant in Zamboanga City also decreased its output from 90 to 80 megawatts as of February 9.
            This pushed the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), as system operator to implement power load shedding throughout Mindanao.  It will be enforced for the whole month of February as it projects that power supply will remain below comfortable levels.
            NGCP Mindanao-Systems Operations (SO) head Eugene Bicar urged the execution of some measures to address the situation in the short term, like the completion of the  Agus  5 Hydroelectric Plant (HEP) preventive maintenance and trash rack repair; resumption of the operation of Iligan Diesel Power Plant (IDPP) to be expedited by the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation (PSALM) and the National Power Corporation and the contracting of additional power generation if there’s one available from embedded generations.
            Likewise, Bicar said the completion of the repair of the Agus 2 – Kibawe 138 KV Lines 1 and 2 and the commissioning of Maramag – Bunawan 230 KV backbone project will also help strengthen the network interconnection of the Mindanao Grid.
            NGCP informed that starting February 3, they have been requesting  power distributors to begin additional load-shedding at 10 in the morning instead of only  past five (5) in the afternoon as compared to January owing to further decrease in the generating capacity due to water inflow constraints.
Three (3) curtailment levels are currently set, first for 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; second for 12:31-5:30 p.m. and third for 5:31 to 9:00 or 10:00 p.m. The levels increase to correspond with the continuous upward trend of the grid load between 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Curtailment is automatically lifted as actual system condition improves.
Power distributors each have their assigned load allocation to maintain for each time bracket under the curtailment plan.  NGCP closely monitors the load of each distributor through the SCADA equipment of Area Control Centers (ACC) located in Zamboanga, Cagayan de Oro, Butuan, Davao and General Santos Cities.
            Bicar said, the cooperation of the distributors is vital to NGCP’s efforts at maintaining the balance of the Mindanao power grid, especially during red alert state. The grid operator is bound by provisions of the Philippine Grid Code.  

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