Root cause of brownouts is generation deficiency

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012


THE National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) maintained that the cause of the daily power curtailment in the Mindanao grid is the acute shortage of power in the region and not any transmission-related problem.

This statement was issued in view of recent reports that some parties are blaming NGCP, particularly its failure to renew its Ancillary Services Procurement Agreement (Aspa) with the power barges, for the daily brownouts being experienced by the consumers in Mindanao the past weeks.

“We realize that some members of the public sector are concerned that the expiration of the Aspa with Therma Marine Incorporated (TMI) will lessen the available capacity in the Mindanao grid,” NGCP spokesperson Cynthia Perez-Alabanza said on Tuesday.

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“We want to clarify that our contract with TMI is only for ancillary services, not for the supply of power for the consumption of end-users. NGCP is not allowed by law or existing regulations to contract with power generators for the supply to end-users,” Alabanza added.

Albanza explained that the obligation to supply power to end-users belongs to the local distribution utilities or the electric cooperatives.

The NGCP maintained that the load curtailment and power interruptions currently experienced in Mindanao are attributed to a “generation deficiency” or lack of power supply generated by the power plants.

The Mindanao grid needs base-load power supply which refers to the power required to meet minimum demands based on the expectations of customer requirements.

“NGCP has been transparent on the actual supply situation in the country. We publish the power situation outlook on a daily basis, to inform everyone on the electricity supply status. For the Mindanao grid, there is a deficiency,” Alabanza said.

She said that just this week, the supply of electricity available to the grid was around 1,112 megawatts (MW) but the system demand peaked at 1,261 MW, which means the demand overshot the supply by 149 MW.

This number does not even include the required regulating and contingency reserves which should be around 150 MW to ensure grid stability, she said.

She said it is clear that there is deficiency and “this information is available to everyone.”

“We publish it in major dailies because that is what our data shows, and our data doesn’t lie,” she said.

She said the NGCP implements load curtailment to maintain the power grid’s security and reliability in the event that the power supply from the plants is not enough to address the demands of all power customers connected to the grid.

The level of curtailment is based on the matrix of load to be maintained issued by the Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation and National Power Corporation (Napocor), she said.

“NGCP has nothing to do with supply. It does not, it cannot, by itself, determine what portion of the available supply will be allocated to each franchise area or distribution utility. We only follow the matrix,” Alabanza said.

In Zamboanga City, the Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative (Zamcelco) is implementing at present a two-hour rotational brownout daily in each of its feeders.

In previous weeks, the duration of the rotational brownout in each of the feeders was only one-half hour which was later increased to one hour and then to one and one-half hour daily.

Meanwhile, Alabanza said ancillary services refer to power supplier-driven services that are necessary to support the transmission of electricity from power resources to load customers and to maintain the reliability of power services.

Alabanza said these load customers are distribution utilities (private utilities, electric cooperatives, government-owned utilities, ecozones), and large industries, government and non-government companies directly connected to the grid.

NGCP bills and collects ancillary services charges from its direct customers then remits these collections directly and entirely to the ancillary services provider, which is the TMI, Alabanza said.

“Ancillary services are passed through charges. NGCP does not make money off this transaction. Oftentimes, we even lose money because while we have to pay generators for the full amount billed us, we cannot always collect from our own customers,” said Alabanza.

Alabanza said the NGCP has remitted P3.4-billion and P2.9-billion ancillary payments to TMI in 2010 and 2011, respectively.

As the collecting agent, Alabanza stressed the NGCP did not get revenues from the ancillary fees.

“The NGCP cannot be blamed for the power problem in Mindanao because its lines are sufficient and are able to handle the entire energy load in the area. These lines are fully operational and are ready to deliver available power from the generators or producers to end-users,” Alabanza said.

At present, she said, the power plants of the Napocor and privately owned generating companies cannot meet the demand of customers connected to the Mindanao grid. (Bong Garcia)

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