Cepalco: No guarantee to spare Oro from rotating brownouts

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Sunday, March 2, 2014

WITH the critical power supply in Mindanao, the Cagayan de Oro Electric Power and Light Co. (Cepalco) could not guarantee that the city would be spared from the rotating brownouts.

Marilyn Chaves, senior manager customer and community relations department of Cepalco, told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro that power supply in Mindanao is very critical, resulting in rotating brownouts in a vast part of the island.

Cepalco has a peak demand of 135 megawatts (MW).


On February 28, the power supply was so limited that Cepalco only drew up around 73 MW from the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) while Minergy, an independent power producer in the city, supplied 43 MW and got another 2 MW from its Bubunawan hydropower plant.

Chaves thanked its industrial company clients in the city that used their own generator sets that spare the residential customers from rotating brownouts while homes in other of parts of Mindanao are without power for some hours of the day.

“Power supply in the entire Mindanao is really short especially that Steag’s 210 MW supply has been out of system for now. At this time, when NPC’s power supply is so limited, it’s really difficult to guarantee 100 percent that CDO residents and business firms would be spared from the rotating brownouts,” Chaves said.

Conserve energy

With the current power situation, Chaves called on the power consumers in the city to help ease the looming power shortage by conserving energy in their homes to enjoy uninterrupted power.

“It will help a lot if everyone will do their share of energy conservation. That’s why Cepalco is once again calling on all customers to minimize their use of electricity at this critical time,” she said.

When asked if the restoration of Steag’s 210 MW would be helpful, Chaves said it’s going to be a relief if Steag will be back on stream by next week, “at least, Mindanao will have an additional source… Sana.”


Jerome Soldevilla, communications officer of Steag State Power Incorporated (SPI), told Sun.Star that Steag is still offline on Sunday, adding: “We’re fast tracking completion of the inspection and hope to come up with a target date for plant restoration.”

Steag’s plant sustained technical problems on its turbine generating sets right after NGCP’s transmission broke Thursday dawn, rendering most parts in Mindanao without power for more than five hours. NGCP is still investigating on the cause of the power outage.

Misamis Oriental 1 Rural Electric Service Cooperative Inc. (Moresco 1) opted on the interruptible load program (ILP) to spare its consumers from rotating brownouts.

Marebec Cagalawan, corporate public relations officer of Moresco 1, told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro over phone interview Sunday night that Moresco 1 opted to drop power on Sunday from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m. in some parts of El Salvador City but with the help from its manufacturing companies, which use their own generator sets, the scheduled afternoon brownouts did not push through.

“However, if this shortage of power continues, Moresco 1 couldn’t also guarantee that its customers would be spared from rotational brownouts. We will continue to tap our manufacturing companies to use their own generator sets to decrease the load for the homes to be lighted,” Cagalawan said.

With that scheme, Moresco 1 pays these companies the diesel used to run their generators and its 75,000 consumers would only pay an additional .2 centavos that would allow them to be spared from the rotational brownouts for now.

Address power situation

In a statement sent to Sun.Star, the Department of Energy (DOE), together with the National Power Corporation (Napocor), National Transmission Corporation (TransCo) and NGCP, continues to monitor the power situation in Mindanao while the investigation on the root cause of the system-wide shutdown on February 27 is underway.

In an earlier meeting with the concerned energy agencies, NGCP reported that the Mindanao system demand stood at 785 MW, and the supply is 853 MW, accounting to 93 MW reserve when the incident occurred around 3:52 a.m. of February 27.

Initial reports indicated that the tripping emanated from the breaker of the Agus 1 switchyard. The breaker or the switchyard of the power plants is the facility that links the power plant to the transmission network.

The following plants tripped, in chronological order, that led to the system collapse: Agus 1 Unit 2, Unit 1; Agus 2 Unit 2, Unit 3, Unit 1; Agus 7 Unit 2; Mt. Apo Geothermal; Pulangi Units 1 & 2; Agus 7 Unit 1; Agus 4 Units 1, 2 & 3; SPPC; Agus 5 Unit 1, Unit 2; Agus 6 Unit 6; Steag. These plants have a total capacity of 677.2 MW.

At present, the DOE and TransCo are gathering all the facts to validate the reports from NGCP, NPC and IPPs.

NGCP and NPC have been tasked to reconcile their data and provide their respective loggers, which contain the recorded sequence of events. NGCP and NPC shall be conducting technical evaluations of condition of the switchyard and the power plants, of which Transco is tasked to interpret the results.

Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said, “While we are concerned to determine the root cause, what we immediately did is to bring back power first,” adding that “thorough technical investigation is being undertaken to determine the root cause of the blackout and be able to take immediate actions to prevent similar incident in the future.”

Since Steag’s 210 MW is still undertaking assessment of its facilities, there will be two to three hours of rotating brownouts in certain franchise areas during peak hours (6-9 p.m.), depending on the supply management of the distribution utilities like electric cooperatives.

The plant operator is still undergoing further technical inspections to pinpoint the effect of the system failure on the plant’s integrity.

Earlier, the NGCP reported that the Mindanao grid has been fully re-energized, as of 12:18 p.m. of February 27.

The DOE, along with concerned energy agencies, reiterated its commitment to strengthen coordination, monitoring, and even upgrading of the power systems, not only in Mindanao but also of the entire country to avoid similar incidents from happening again.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on March 03, 2014.

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