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MANILA, Philippines – On the eve of the Malampaya maintenance shutdown, the Department of Energy (DOE) remains optimistic that there would be no power outages despite forecasts of thin power reserves.
The Malampaya natural gas facility, which supplies 40% of Luzon’s power requirements, is scheduled to shutdown on March 15 up to April 13 for maintenance.
“For as long as power plants do not go on unplanned or forced outage, we should be okay. Otherwise, we will experience intermittent disturbances during the time when plants on forced outage are down,” DOE Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said.
This is despite a recent outage suffered by the 1,200 megawatt (MW) Sual coal-fired power plant, the country’s largest, in Pangasinan. The outage resulted in a 30-minute brownout in some parts of Metro Manila.
The deep water-to-gas project supplies natural gas to three power plants, Sta. Rita 100 MW, San Lorenzo 500 MW and Ilijan 1,200MW, which will switch to liquid fuel during the shutdown.
Both the Sta Rita and San Lorenzo plants will still be able to run at their full capacity despite the shift, while Ilijan will only be able to run at about 420MW, DOE Director Myleen Capongcol said in a text message.
Based on its power situation outlook, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) gross power reserve for Luzon stands at 1,981 MW on March 15 and 1,280 MW on March 16.
The DOE and its various bureaus are closely monitoring the overall energy sector condition during the Malampaya turnaround.
“Based on our projection, Luzon could have a deficit of about 200MW without the Interruptible Load Program (ILP) this summer,” said Petilla.
Manila Electric Company (Meralco) said last week that it has signed up more participants for the ILP, pushing the total to 667.29MW of committed interruptible load (CIL) for the summer.
The utility firm said it expects a total potential of 367.64MW more of ILP. If successful, the overall CIL could reach 1,034.93MW.
In the meantime, the DOE has instituted a campaign for energy efficiency and conservation.
The agency strongly urged the public to turn the thermostat of cooling systems to 25 degrees Celsius particularly during the peak demand hours of 10 am to 2 pm.
The DOE has also released a memorandum addressed to all its attached agencies to wear casual clothes – described as “cool attire” – during summer to counter the expected hot weather. – Rappler.com