by Angelica Y. Yang/ | June 22, 2022 | READ THE STORY HERE

MANILA, Philippines — Problems with power supply on the Luzon grid, which was placed on red alert and saw power outages last Saturday — highlight the need for flexible and distributed power system that is not dependent on large centralized power plants, a local climate and energy policy group said.

Supply has been tight this week, with coal-fired plants going offline in Tuesday and Wednesday. Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) chief data scientist Jephraim Manansala said in a statement Wednesday that making up for shortfall has meant the use of more expensive diesel power plants.

Manansala said several baseload power plants, including the state-owned Ilijan plant, went on “unscheduled and overlapping” downtimes in the past weeks. Plants owned by AboitizPower, Semirara Mining and Power, Pangasinan Electric Corp. and Southwest Luzon Power Generation have also had to go offline.

“The unplanned outages resulted in the use of multiple diesel power plants which are significantly more expensive as influenced by the ongoing Ukraine invasion,” Manansala said.

“The high power generating costs, interruptions, and the grid alert levels raised during this time highlights the vulnerability of our grid to large centralized generators,” ICSC energy transition advisor Alberto Dalusung III said in the same statement.

“Any problem with these centralized generators can push the entire power system into a costly and vulnerable state because of the significant share of each individual centralized plant in the system,” he also said.

“Our current situation emphasizes the urgent need for an energy transition based on flexible, distributed energy sources,” he also said.

Distributed energy sources include smaller energy generation and storage technologies that may be connected to local grids or used a stand-alone power source, according to a briefing document by the US Department of Energy. These can include wind turbines, solar cells and microturbines.

“While we acknowledge that this energy transition will not be an overnight process, we need to pick up the pace by keeping flexibility and decentralization in perspective for our country’s system planning and policy-making,” Dalusung also said.

Yellow alert anew

The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) said anew that the Luzon power grid will be on yellow alert as several coal-run power plants remained offline on Wednesday.

A yellow alert is placed over the grid when reserves fall below ideal levels, but this does not necessarily mean there will be power interruptions. If the supply to demand balance worsens, a red alert— which points to a severe power deficiency which may lead to rotating power outages— is declared.

In a statement on Wednesday, NGCP reported that several coal-fired power plants remain on forced outage, shaving off a total of 1,592 megawatts (MW) from the Luzon grid:

  • The 460-MW Quezon Power Phils. Ltd. (QPPL) plant;
  • The Southwest Luzon Power Generation Corp.’s Units 1, 3 and 4 (200 MW total);
  • The GNPower Mariveles Energy Center Ltd. Co. (GMEC) Units 1 and 2 (632 MW total), and;
  • The 300-MW SEM Calaca Power Corp. (Calaca) Unit 2

The yellow alert will run from 10 a.m to 11 a.m, and 12 p.m to 4 p.m, the grid operator said.

NGCP reported on Wednesday that the Luzon grid’s net operating margin is 369 MW, but did not disclose why all the plants have stayed offline.

This comes days after NGCP placed the Luzon grid under red alert on June 18, Saturday, after the tripping of lines linked to a transmission line in Bataan, which isolated some power plants in the area. Since then, the Luzon grid was placed under yellow alert for at least three times.

NGCP explained that the transmission line issue has already been resolved since Saturday, but has said there are still power plants were on forced shutdown. has reached out to the Energy department for its statement on Wednesday’s yellow alert, but it has not given its comments as of press time.

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