Power supply watched after quake

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earthquake Pampanga
Rescuers retrieve earthquake victims from a establishment in Porac Pampanga a day after 6.1 Quake Hit the Philippines last April 22. -- PHILIPPINE STAR/MICHAEL VARCAS

LUZON managed to avoid widespread brownouts despite the 6.1 earthquake that rocked parts of the island on Monday, knocking out several major power plants.

However, the Department of Energy (DoE) held off releasing its power supply and demand outlook for the rest of the week as it awaits the return online of two units of San Miguel Consolidated Power Corp. (SMCPC) and a unit of GNPower Mariveles Coal Plant Ltd. Co.

Mas makikita natin ‘yung situation mamayang gabi dahil papasok na ‘yung mga planta at ‘yung pag-monitor din natin sa demand. Ngayon mababa ‘yung demand at may nawalang mga planta — 1,290 megawatts (MW) ang affected ng earthquake (The situation will be clearer tonight when some of the affected power plants will go on line and in the face of demand we are monitoring,” Energy Undersecretary William Felix B. Fuentebella said in a briefing at the DoE head office in Taguig City on Tuesday.

A magnitude 6.1 earthquake, centered near Castillejos, Zambales, struck at 5:11 p.m. on Monday; followed by a magnitude 6.5 quake centered near San Julian, Eastern Samar that struck at 1:37 p.m. on Tuesday.

On Monday night, the DoE counted five power plants that went offline following the quake, namely: Anda Power Corp. (83.7 MW) in Mabalacat, Pampanga; Panasia Energy Holding Inc. (648 MW) in Limay, Bataan; GN Power Mariveles (two units, each with 345 MW) in Mariveles, Bataan; and Caliraya-Botocan-Kalayaan Power Co. Ltd. (720 MW) in Kalayaan, Laguna.

Kalayaan units 1 to 4 and Anda Power promptly went back online, along with SMCPC units 1 and 2. But SMCPC’s units 2 and 3 suffered rupture disc damage.

The DoE said National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) issued a red alert notice at 5:20 p.m. on Monday due to multiple tripping. The agency said it was initially informed by the grid operator that the quake caused a drop in available capacity of 2,009 MW and brought down system frequency to 58.87 Hz.

The quake caused power interruptions in Pangasinan, Pampanga, La Union, and Bataan. Power in Quezon, Batangas, Camarines Sur and Sorsogon were also affected but were soon restored.

As of 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, the DoE said a total of 1,290 MW were still offline, although the 345-MW unit 1 of GN Power Mariveles was set to be back by midnight. The 345-MW unit 2, as well as SMCPC’s affected units, did not have a definite timetable for returning online.

Two other plants are reported to have been de-rated, generating energy below installed capacity, reducing capacity in the Luzon grid by an additional 720 MW.

Apart from the power plants, NGCP said the Mexico-San Simon 69-kilovolt (kV) line is presently undergoing repair.

Pampanga Electric Cooperative II has reported the partial restoration of power in its service area, with subsequent re-energization subject to NGCP rehabilitation of distribution lines linked to the power distributor.

No damage was reported by downstream and upstream oil industry players, Mr. Fuentebella said.

A state of calamity was raised in Porac, Pampanga, hence, a price freeze for household liquefied petroleum gas and kerosene products in this area is now in effect and will remain valid for 15 days.

Reynaldo B. Abadilla, NGCP head for Luzon system operations, said the power situation depends on re-entry online of the affected power plants. “Tonight we will know the real situation if they can sink in and provide full load on Wednesday morning,” he said.

NGCP is also conducting aerial inspection of facilities in affected areas, including Zambales and Bataan, to check the integrity of its facilities.

Mr. Fuentebella said power restoration efforts were set to have been completed by 5:27 p.m. on Tuesday.

Turning its attention to the Eastern Samar quake, the DoE said that, as of 4.15 p.m. on Tuesday, it had received initial reports on power generation, transmission and distribution. It said that, as of 3:30 p.m., there was no damage reported at power plants in the Visayas.

It also said NGCP was still assessing the status of transmission facilities in the area.

But the quake caused power interruptions in Northern Samar, Eastern Samar and Calbayog City.

The DoE said it was coordinating with the National Electrification Administration to check electricity cooperatives in areas affected by the quake.

“Only a portion of Leyte Electric Cooperative II is experiencing power interruption due to the tripping of one of its feeders. The ground personnel are on their way to restore it,” the DoE said in a statement.

It said the entire Eastern Samar Electric Cooperative (Esamelco) coverage area had no power due to the earthquake.

“As of 3:22 p.m., the NGCP and (Esamelco) have already energized the Nato Substation and restored power to the municipalities of Can-avid, Maslog, Dolores, Oras, San Policarpo, Arteche and Jipadpad,” the department said.

“The other substations however remain unenergized.” — Victor V. Saulon