THE under-5 mortality rate in children is always a priority concern for health authorities, and when it comes to power plants, new ones—meaning, operational in just five years or less—that conk out are causing worry to regulators still reeling from the fallout of recent unscheduled brownouts in Luzon.
The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) said it was “disturbing” to find out that relatively new power plants conked out more than 20 times from March 5 to April 25 this year.
“This is a very interesting slide because zero to five years so far exceeded the 26 to 30-year-old plants…[the] zero to five power plants [conking out is] disturbing,” said ERC Chairman Agnes Devanadera.
The ERC chief was referring to the data presented to media last Friday. Based on the “Distribution of Plants in Outage by Age” from March 5 to April 25, power plants with age zero to five years encountered more than 20 outage incidents during the period.
Meanwhile, power plants aged 26 to 30 years old recorded nearly 20 outage incidents, followed by plants 16 to 20 years old with nearly 10 outage incidents; plants over 30 years with over five outage incidents; and 21 to 25 year old plants with nearly five plant outages during the period.
“Plants that are 16 years old and above contributed 62 percent of the plant outage from March 5 to April 25. The 26 to 30, we can say that it’s because of wear and tear. But the zero to five, we are still looking at their reasons for outage,” said ERC Spokesman Atty. Rexie Digal.
According to ERC commissioner Catherine Paredes Maceda, owners of the new power plants told the agency that power plants—whether old or new—are complicated.
“We called them to a meeting. Their explanation was that, it doesn’t follow that just because a plant is new it won’t break down; they said a power plant is complicated,” Maceda said.
Regulators, added Maceda, “are also looking at what technology they utilized, the materials, etc. Because of what happened, we are closely looking at the certificate of compliance.”
The ERC recently conducted site inspections of the following plants: GN Power Mariveles coal plant of AC Energy Inc. and Aboitiz Power Corp.; SCPC (San Miguel Consolidated Power Corp.) Limay coal plant; SLTEC 1(South Luzon Thermal Energy Corp.); Santa Rita power plant of First Gen Power Corp.; SLTEC 2; SLPGC 2 (Southwest Luzon Power Generation Corp.); Pagbilao 3 of Team Energy Corp. and Aboitiz; state firm’s Malaya 1; and Sual 1 of Team Energy.
“Boiler tube leak” was the reason provided by the owners and operators of GN Power Mariveles and SLTEC 1 for the outage.
Pagbilao 3 experienced “boiler slagging” while Sual 1 reported “boiler circulating pump piping leak.”
A “motor boiler pump trouble” was reported by the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (PSALM), which operates the Malaya plant.
SCPC Limay coal plant experienced “high furnace pressure.”
A “gas line vent valve trouble” was reported by FGEN Santa Rita.
A tripping of the manual turbine was experienced at SLTEC 2 plant.
Meanwhile, SLPGC 2 blamed “primary air fan, high stator winding temperature and primary air fan B high motor bearing vibration” as the cause of the outage.
“As a background, we are seeing that 30 percent of our plants that are 30 years and above would constitute 15 percent of the capacity,” Digal said.
“We still have, I think the biggest [batch]—29.8 percent will be 16 to 20 years in operation,” and followed by the 21 to 25-year age group accounting for 23 percent of capacity. The oldest batch of plants, aged 30 and above, constitute 15 percent.
Plants that are six to 10 years old account for around 10 percent of capacity and the newest, or from zero to five, around 15 percent.
“We found that 16 years and above plants in operation constitute 72 percent of the Luzon capacity,” said Digal.