Mindanao blackout not cause of damage to Aboitiz plant

Mindanao blackout not cause of damage to Aboitiz plant
The blackout should not be used as an excuse for a 10-month delay in commissioning a new Davao power plant, Petilla says

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Energy (DOE) said it is certain that the Mindanao-wide blackout that occurred on Easter Sunday in April was not the reason for the damage to components of Unit 2 of Therma South Incorporated’s (TSI) coal- fired power plant in Davao City.

Based on the results of an investigation by a task force headed by the National Transmission Corporation (TransCo) the grid-wide power outage should not be used as an excuse for the delay of the commissioning of the new power facility, said DOE Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla.

“I received yesterday the formal investigation. We will ask TSI to comment on the findings. Before we accuse them of anything, we want to hear their side,” said Petilla.

Petilla was asked about the findings on TSI, which initially reported that the disruption caused damage to the auxiliary components, particularly the air-pre-heater (APH) and electrostatic precipitator (EP), to the boiler of its Unit 2. He said, “It’s definitely not caused by the blackout.”

Petilla said a copy of the report will be sent to TSI. “If they will not respond in several days, I’ll just publish it,” said the energy chief.

Aboitiz Power, TSI’s parent firm, previously said in a statement that the property damage will delay the commercial operations of Unit 2 by approximately 10 months or until February 2016. 

The commissioning of Unit 1, however, remains on schedule and should reach commercial operation by the end of June 2015.

TSI president and COO Benjie Cariaso Jr also confirmed that TSI would be conducting its own investigation, assisted by a third party consultant to determine the root cause of the incident.

Minor Fire 

TransCo President Rolando Bacani had said that main cause of the grid-wide blackout was traced to a “corroded suspension insulator shank that gave way, causing the transmission line to fall and hitting the other line conductors and tower parts.”

This, he added, resulted in a short circuit which was not isolated in time.

According to the Transco report, TSI’s emergency diesel generator failed to cut in when power from the grid was cut off.

“The loss of power supply to the APH stopped its rotation thereby the APH elements were subjected to excessive heat of the gas coming from the boiler. Consequently, the APH burned together with the EP as fire and heat exited through the chimney,” said Bacani.

Petilla thinks the incident could have been prevented.

“There was a minor fire that occurred and it has nothing to do with the Mindanao blackout. They did not put out the fire immediately. My question to them is simple. Where is their circuit breaker? Why are they the only ones affected? They can say all they want but they are a party of interest,” said the energy chief.

The DOE cannot not penalize TSI for the delay of the power plant commissioning. But it will forward a copy of the report to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), which is authorized to impose sanctions. 

“There was no penalty indicated in the contract between a generation company and the electric cooperative. The ERC should realize that those who contract for power would need to include a penalty clause in the contract when delay occurs,” said Petilla.

The energy secretary proposed that one form of penalty could be replacement power. “A modular genset will do. All the parties should realize the importance of such.” – Rappler.com

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