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CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – Visayas is bracing for more blackouts, with the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) projecting a decline to nearly -178 megawatts (MW) in central Philippines’ power reserves by Friday night, January 5.
A day after New Year’s Day, Western Visayas experienced a widespread power outage affecting cities and provinces throughout the region.
Based on the NGCP’s power situation outlook for January 5, the evening peak demand in the Visayas is projected to reach 2,252 MW, while its generating capacity stands at 2,074 MW, indicating a deficit of -177.79 MW.
The Visayas stands alone among the country’s three main geographical divisions in facing precarious operating margins in terms of power supply. In comparison, Luzon’s and Mindanao’s lowest operating margins were projected at 2,488 MW and 723.11 MW, respectively, both in the afternoon.
The NGCP had projected an available generating capacity of 2,350.2 MW for the Visayas with a system peak of 2,158 MW, or a 192.2 MW operating margin on Friday morning. In the afternoon, Visayas’ power generation capacity was seen at 2,316.1 MW against a system peak of 2,242 MW, or a 74.1-MW operating margin, before a projected plunge to -177.79 MW in the evening.
On January 2, the NGCP reported a complete shutdown of all power plants on Panay Island at around 2:27 pm, leading to widespread blackouts within the Negros-Panay grid.
The outage raised concerns about the potential impact on businesses and public health in the affected areas.
Iloilo Mayor Jerry Treñas expressed his disappointment over the power interruptions, saying the blackouts have cost his city alone at least P400 million to P500 million in economic losses.
Treñas urged the Department of Energy (DOE) and NGCP to collaborate on finding a long-term and sustainable solution to prevent such disruptions in the future.
The blackouts have brought to the fore the need for a reliable power supply in Western Visayas, given the associated risks to both businesses and public health.
Following the power outage in the Visayas, the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) said they would start investigations to uncover the cause and prevent similar incidents.
There is still no clear explanation for the blackouts but the NGCP attributed the power outage to the tripping of multiple power plants, in a statement on Wednesday, January 3.
“The unscheduled maintenance shutdowns of the largest power plants in Panay island was the primary cause of the power interruption,” the NGCP said.
An executive of an independent power producer in Mindanao told Rappler that the phrase “unscheduled maintenance shutdowns” simply meant that the power plants “bogged down.”
In an advisory on Friday morning, the NGCP said 206.9 MW was being served by Panay power plants, augmented by 33.1 MW from sources elsewhere in the Visayas, for a total of 240.1 MW served loads.
“We reiterate that load restoration will be done conservatively, by matching loads to restored generation, to prevent repeated voltage failure,” the NGCP said.
It also said, “NGCP is now removing restriction of demand and is fully restoring loads at Panay Island following the synchronization of PCPC (135MW) to the grid at 1:33 am this morning, and their declaration that their unit is now stable.” PCPC refers to the Palm Concepcion Power Corporation.
NGCP added, “As of this advisory, 347.2MW is being served by Panay power plants, with 5.7MW exported elsewhere to the grid, for a total of 341.4MW served loads.”
It said it was monitoring the situation and balancing generation addition with the gradual restoration of remaining affected loads.
“Load restoration will be done conservatively, by matching loads to restored generation, to prevent repeated voltage failure,” the NGCP said. – Rappler.com