Mindanao-wide blackout shocks Energy secretary

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Friday, February 28, 2014


THE Mindanao-wide power outage on Thursday caught Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla by surprise, as he held a press conference at the 9th floor of Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC).

"We are all surprised. System-wide [outage] in Mindanao, I could not remember the last time this happened," he said in a transcript of the press conference furnished to Sun.Star Davao.

At 3:53 a.m. on Thursday, Mindanao experienced an island-wide blackout brought by a power disturbance in the Mindanao grid.

Petilla said Mindanao usually experiences massive brownouts that will range from four to six hours every February. But he said Mindanao hardly had any this year where brownouts lasted for only an hour.

"We may not have enough for Mindanao, but the curtailment is actually very small-16 to 20 megawatts (MW) deficit. This cannot be compared to a summertime demand na 200 MW ang curtailment," he said.

Petilla said initial reports from the teams in Mindanao reported that the problem started in Pulangi IV, Bukidnon.

"That was just the initial report, there was no written report yet. It did not indicate anything other than it started there. If the problem was with the plants, the indication is that probably the problem is from the breaker of the plant; and if it's the line, then it's the line along that area. It can be a trip but why it tripped, that's got to take some time. Our initial report was everything went down all together," he said.

LISTEN: Statement of DOE Sec. Jericho Petilla (February 28, 2014)

Petilla said they are trying to retrieve the time log in Pulangi IV to determine the cause of the problem.

He said, "Definitely there is something that triggered it (the blackout) and that is what we're trying to find out right now."

Petilla said they can only speculate but they cannot conclude anything at this point.

He also said there were no reports of any attack on the grid from armed groups.

"Kung meron man pinasabog, then you wouldn't be able to restore power because you have to do a lot of fixing. Sabi ko nga, until I receive reports, I will not discount anything but at this point it is unlikely," he said.

Petilla also said that the incident has nothing to do with the power supply of Mindanao because it is a totally different problem from the supply.

Petiilla said around 1,100 MW to 1,200 MW was lost when the outage struck.

As of 4:30 p.m. Friday, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) said they have fully restored power in the island.

"The next phase is basically to find out what went wrong. Then, determine what measures will we put in to prevent this thing from happening again. We have to take this one step at a time," Petilla said, adding that they are expecting reports from the deployed teams in Mindanao as soon as possible.

Earlier, NGCP spokesperson Cynthia Perez-Alabanza, in a phone interview with Sun.Star Davao, said NGCP was not the reason for the island-wide blackout.

"Yung na monitor na disturbance, nawala ang kuryente. Hindi po kami gumawa niyon, nangyari lang po iyon. Ang ginawa namin is nakipag-coordinate kami sa power plants at sinusubukan po naming ibalik ng isa't isa yung kaya ng tumakbo," she said, stressing that NGCP or other power suppliers have nothing to do with the incident.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on March 01, 2014.

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