What really caused the Luzon power failure?

Voltaire Tupaz
The power supply may have been restored but the cause of the power failure is still being evaluated.

MANILA, Philippines – The power supply may have been restored but the cause of the power failure is still being evaluated. It is not yet clear whether it was a transmission or a power plant problem, according to Department of Energy (DOE). (Read: Luzon power supply back after ‘major system trouble’)

“Based on the log of NCGP, Calaca 2 and the Biñan-Calaca transmission line tripped simultaneously. We could not yet determine what really caused the trip,” Director Mylene Capongcol of the DOE Electric Power Industry Management Bureau told Rappler in mixed English and Filipino.

This was not what NCGP reported after the outage. In a statement, it gave assurances that its transmission lines are “secure and fully-functional.”

“This has nothing to do with transmission system. The transmission systems are fine,” NGCP spokesperson Mutya Alabanza said in a text message to reporters on May 8.

However, NGCP’s own incident report, which Rappler obtained, indicated that it put the Luzon grid on red alert at 2:00 pm, May 8, “due to occurrence of major system trouble.”

National Grid Corp of the Philippines Memo part 1

National Grid Corp of the Philippines Memo part 2

Power plant image via Shutterstock

The report, which was sent to Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla and other agencies, said that at 1:51pm, May 8, Calaca 1 and 2, Sta Rita and San Lorenzo Module 1-6, Ilijan Block A, Sual U1, 1590EC and QPPL “tripped out caused by the tripping of the 230kV lines” including Biñan-Calaca, Calaca-Sta Rosa, Amadeo-Dasmariñas, and Amadeo-Calaca.

Apparently citing the report, Petilla stressed that “the likelihood of 5 plants bogging dow is exteremenly unlikely. The lines caused it, not the plants.” (Read: Power outage hits parts of Luzon)

Capongcol clarified that the different statements of NGCP and DOE were just a “messaging” problem and a mere confusion that ensued after the power failure.

Capongcol also said that the NGCP’s incident report was just an initial feedback. She said that generators will submit their respective log sheets or records on Thursday, May 9, as part of the investigation that Sec Petilla wanted to finish as soon as possible.

DOE downplays power failure

Meanwhile, the poll watchdog group Kontra Daya expressed concern over the conflicting statements of the DOE and NGCP and their inability to immediately determine the cause of the power interruption.

“Secretary Petilla should understand that the whole power infrastructure is an integrated system and should not be left to separate entities that wash their hands when problems occur. It is then up to Malacañang to ensure stable supply and available power on election day,” Kontra Daya spokesperson Dr Giovani Tapang said.

Tapang blamed the privatization of the country’s electricity superhighway for the miscoordination and miscommunication in the energy sector. The Sy-led NGCP operates the country’s transmission lines.

Kontra Daya urged Malacanang to step in “to immediately probe and determine the cause of the massive power outage,” stressing that concerns about widespread power failure is a legitimate concern that could not be dismissed.

The poll watchdog said it received various reports of delay and even cancellation of the final testing and sealing (FTS) conducted on May 6 in many precincts in Mindanao due to intermittent power outages. It also observed that the backup batteries were not part of the equipment tested, Tapang said.

Mindanao has been experiencing rotating brownouts over the past few months due to power deficit. [Read: Mindanao power deficit could be higher – DoE)

The DOE allayed fears of massive power interruptions during the elections on May 13, saying that its Task Force Halalan is prepared with contingency measures. The energy department also noted that even with brownout, PCOS machines have battery packs that can provide power for as long as 16 hour.

In a meeting with power sector stakeholders Wednesday night, May 8, Petilla impressed on NGCP that the incident should not happen again.

On Wednesday night, Petilla inspected the command center of the Task Force Halalan housed in the NGCP building where he met representatives from the energy sector to discuss the power situation and how it will look during the elections. – Rappler.com

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.