By Sheldeen Joy Talavera, Reporter

THE VISAYAS GRID was again placed on red and yellow alerts on Wednesday, while the Luzon grid was put under yellow alert, with more than 30 power plants still either on forced outage or operating at limited capacity, according to the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP).

In a statement, the NGCP said that as of 6:47 p.m. on Wednesday, a red alert had been raised over the Visayas grid from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. due to the reduced output of the Mindanao-Visayas interconnection project after two power plants with a total capacity of 273 megawatts (MW) tripped.

Earlier in the day, the NGCP said the Luzon grid was under the yellow alert status from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. on April 17. During this period, available capacity was 13,607 MW, while peak demand was 12,874 MW.

“Eighteen power plants are on forced outage, while three others are running on derated capacities, for a total of 1,969.3 MW unavailable to the grid,” the grid operator said.

In the Visayas, the yellow alert was raised from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. as 13 power plants went on forced outage, while five others were running at limited capacity, bringing the total unavailable capacity to 698 MW.

Peak demand was at 2,523 MW, nearly outpacing the available capacity at 2,713 MW.

Yellow alerts are issued when the supply available to the grid falls below a safety threshold. If the supply-demand balance deteriorates further, a red alert is declared.

On Tuesday, both red and yellow alerts were declared as 42 power plant units went on forced outage or were derated, losing a total capacity of over 3,000 MW.

Manual load dropping or rotational power interruptions were implemented in some parts of Luzon.

Red and yellow alerts were first lifted in the Visayas at 9:01 p.m. and 11:01 p.m., respectively on Tuesday.

NGCP lifted the red and yellow alerts over Luzon at 11:01 p.m. on Tuesday and 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday.

The Southwest Luzon Power Generation Corp. unit 2 with 150 MW and Sta. Rita 40 of First Gen Corp. with 264 MW had gone back online as of 3:03 a.m. on April 17.

In a separate statement, the Philippine Independent Power Producers Association, Inc. (PIPPA) said majority of the 19 power plants in the Luzon grid that were on outage were hydropower plants with low water levels.

“The PIPPA member-generators have submitted the reports required in instances of unplanned outage and continue to prioritize efforts in further strengthening the resilience of their generation assets,” the group said.

Gerry C. Arances, convenor of the People for Power Coalition, said the incident should be a wakeup call to transition from fossil fuel to renewable energy.

“The government needs to wake up and get on with the program,” he said in an e-mailed statement. “Fossil fuel dependence leads to costly and undependable energy.”

“The long-term solution is obvious to anyone not blinded by fumes from fossil fuels. Transitioning to renewable energy is the only solution,” he added.

As of 11 a.m., Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) said it had advised the participants of its Interruptible Load Program to be on standby in case of a red alert.

These are large power consumers that have their own generating facilities. These entities stop drawing power from the grid during times of unreliable supply, tapping their own power plants for their needs and reducing the overall load on the grid.

“We are calling on consumers to join our energy conservation because this will help us to preserve the integrity of our electric power industry system where the demand will not be that high,” Energy Assistant Secretary Mario C. Marasigan told state media. “We will not have rotational brownouts or widespread outage.

As of 4:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Meralco had implemented emergency manual load dropping, affecting about 50,000 customers in parts of Batangas, Bulacan, Cavite and Laguna. All services had been fully restored by 5:58 p.m.

“We again call on the public to continue practicing energy conservation and efficiency measures to help manage the overall demand,” the power distributor said.

Monalisa C. Dimalanta, chairman and chief executive officer of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), said that they would investigate the power failures.

Under a resolution issued by the ERC in 2020, generation companies must submit an event report to the regulator for planned and unplanned failures of generating facilities within 48 hours.