Meralco unfazed by shutdown of Luzon power plants in Feb

SOME of the power plants that have existing power supply agreements (PSAs) with Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), the country’s largest power distributor, will go on a scheduled shutdown next month.

The power plants that are scheduled to go offline are Calaca coal-fired power plant unit 2 (300MW) in Batangas, Masinloc coal-fired power plant unit 2 (315MW) in Zamabales and QPPL (Quezon Power Philippines Ltd.)  coal-fired power plant in Mauban, Quezon (460MW).  All three power facilities won’t be operating for the entire February.

Ilijan combined-cycle power plant unit 2 (600MW) in Batangas will be placed on an offline mode for most of the days next month while the plant is scheduled for maintenance work. Also, Sta. Rita Module 10 (250MW) will go offline for a few days in February.

“This is based on what we are aware of, mainly of the plants which we are contracted. For other plants, such as SLTEC (South Luzon Thermal Energy Corp.), we do not have official information,” said Meralco utility economics head Lawrence Fernandez in an interview.

Meralco has PSAs in effect with the Calaca, Masinloc and Ilijan power plants. QPPL, meanwhile, is one of the Independent Power Producers (IPP) which has an existing contract with Meralco.

PSAs provided 40 percent of Meralco’s total energy requirement in December 2017. This was reflected in the January 2018 bills of consumers.

The share of IPP purchases to Meralco’s total requirement during the same period stood at 41 percent. The remaining 19 percent was sourced from the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM).

Meralco accounts for about 75 percent of total electricity sales in Luzon and about 55 percent nationwide.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, including unscheduled power plant shutdowns, there are no expected issuances of red alert notice by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).

A red alert notice is issued by the grid operator when the power reserve left on the grid is regulating reserve or equivalent to four percent of the current demand. Power interruption may occur.

A yellow alert notice means operating reserves have dropped below the required 647MW contingency in Luzon or equivalent to largest unit in Luzon which is the 647-MW coal-fired power plant in Sual, Pangasinan.

Meralco President Oscar Reyes said the situation seems manageable since the temperature in February is cool. Demand for power, therefore, is not expected to peak.

“We hope there will be no forced outage incidents. It looks ok for now, even with the planned shutdowns, we have enough power requirements on our side,” Reyes said.

The Department of Energy also shared Meralco’s view.

“We are closely monitoring sudden forced outages of power plants. For the plants that are on scheduled shutdown, we have no problem with that,” Energy Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella said in an interview on Thursday.

“There is no impact on power interruption because these scheduled shutdowns of plants are being coordinated with the system operator and other industry stakeholders,” Fuentebella added.

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