DISTRIBUTION giant Manila Electric Company (Meralco) said power supply situation in the Luzon grid has normalized after the problem in the Sual coal fired plant was addressed.

Joe Zaldarriaga, external affairs manager of Meralco, said in a phone interview: “Power situation is normal and we will not be implementing rotating brownouts.”

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According to Zaldarriaga, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), the operator of the country’s transmission grid, reported that repairs at the unit 1 of Sual have been completed Tuesday night.

Several parts of Metro Manila, as well as some parts of Bulacan, Laguna, and Cavite suffered rotating brownouts after Meralco implemented a manual load dropping (MLD) as a result of the tripping of the unit 1 of the 1,000 megawatt Sual coal-fired power facility.

NGCP reported that Sual bogged down past 12 noon Monday and this forced them to impose an automatic load dropping (ALD).

It said that apart from the feedwater pump trouble that was encountered by the Sual 1, the other unit of Sual was not working due to coal supply limitations.

The power supply situation was further aggravated by the maintenance repair being performed on the 200 MW Calaca plant, the 460MW Quezon Power plant and the 600MW Ilijan plant.

NGCP said most of the hydro plants are suffering from “low water levels.”

Meanwhile, Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes said he will call a meeting with the power firms including NGCP to determine the real cause of the power interruptions Monday afternoon.

“On February 1, we will discuss this matter because we cannot afford this kind of situation wherein generators are encountering problems,” Reyes said.

Meralco officials, meantime, appealed to the consumers to observe proper electricity use especially now that we are entering the summer months.

Power reserved, according to Meralco, was placed at 200MW but this could not be maintained if consumers will not monitor their consumption properly.

Elections

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) declared that any power interruptions will not affect the conduct of elections this coming May 10.

Comelec chairman Jose Melo gave this assurance in reaction to the rotating brownouts that took place Monday afternoon in several parts of Luzon including Metro Manila.

Melo pointed out that with or without power supply, the 82,200 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines are capable of running and completing its task since it has battery reserved, which could last up to 16 hours.

The Comelec chief said the voting, counting, and canvassing will be completed early as compared to the manual system where members of the board of election inspectors (BEI) have to work until midnight and are also tasked to transport the election returns and municipal canvass for votes’ consolidation.

“At 6 p.m. its (voting, counting and canvassing are) completed and shortly after that its transmitted,” Melo told reporters in a news briefing Tuesday.

He said the supplier of the PCOS units have given its assurance to them that the automated machines will run through its battery under any circumstances.

“Yes, no problem basta the battery will run the PCOS machines,” he added.

Earlier, the Department of Energy through the National Power Corp. (Napocor) has submitted a contingency plan with the Comelec to address impending power shortage during the election period.

But Melo said there is no need to adopt the contingency plans since the voting, canvassing, and counting will not last more than 11 hours beginning 7 a.m. until 6 p.m.

Privately owned

In Malacañang, Deputy Presidential Spokesman Gary Olivar said the Sual Power plant is now privately owned and run which gives administration critics no reason to blame President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo or her administration for the recent power outage.

Both Olivar and Philippine Information Agency Director General Conrado Limcauco said there is no reason to create fear or a scenario of possible brownouts during election day.

“Let us focus on what is good for the country, let us not involve elections which is important to us… Keep the process of elections out of this, concentrate on winning respective voters and keep the President out of this as well,” Olivar said.

He said the Sual Power Plant is privately operated and the power outage should not be used as an excuse to again create a conspiracy scenario of possible election problems.

Olivar said that based on the National Power Corporation, the outage was due to coal supply problems.

He assured the government is addressing the power outages concerns, stressing that “there is no reason to believe otherwise.” (MSN/JMR/Sunnex)