THE Department of Energy (DOE) yesterday said that Cebu may continue to experience rotational power outages until the first week of March because of emergency repairs of power plants.

DOE Visayas Director Antonio Labios said that Cebu experienced a power deficiency of 50 megawatts (MW) yesterday (February 23, 2015).

At its peak, the power generation capacity was at 1,400 MW but the demand reached 1,450 MW.

Labios identified three power plants undergoing emergency repairs.

These are the 100-MW coal-fired power plant of the Kepco-Salcon Power Corp. (SPC) in the City of Naga, 82-MW coal-fired power plant of the Cebu Energy and Development Corp. (CEDC) in Toledo City; and the 82-MW coal-fired power plant of the Panay Energy and Development Corp.

Governor Hilario Davide III and National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) division head Abner Bardoquillo agreed that there is an adequate supply of power in Cebu, if not for the emergency repairs.

Labios said that all power plants were required to submit schedules of maintenance operation.

However, the recent outages were caused by emergency cases, hence, unscheduled.

"We must have a contingency reserve of 100 MW every day. However, the projection of the NGCP is that we only have a power reserve of 40-80 MW on regular hours (not peak hours) so that we were on yellow alert," Labios told Sun.Star Cebu.

Red alert means that there is no more reserve for power deficiency.

Yesterday was a case of red alert.

But Labios said that the status went back to yellow after peak hours, especially at dawn when power usage is less.

Peak hours are between 6 and 8 p.m.

But Labios said that this doesn't mean that DOE misrepresented itself when it said that there is enough power supply until 2016 because the situation is only temporary.

"Once these three power plants will be completely repaired by March, the supply against demand will be back to normal with power reserves," Labios said.

Labios also explained that the blackout last Feb. 19 at 1:45 a.m. was caused by an explosion of the NGCP substation in Naga and not due to the lack of power supply.

“There is adequate supply, but things like that happen,” Davide said of the Feb. 19 explosion that triggered an eight-hour blackout in Cebu, Bohol, Samar, and Leyte.

Bardoquillo said they initiated steps to avoid recurrence of the explosion.

“But its not 100 percent,” he said.

Davide met with representatives of power generators, power transmission companies and distribution companies yesterday to get power situation updates.

Power generators told Davide that Cebu has an adequate power supply reserve, which will be used in case of power supply shortage.

When asked if there will be impending blackouts in Cebu, Bardoquillo said, “If we have (power supply) reserve there is no brownout. If we have deficit then there will be brownout.”

But brownouts, he said, will not be confined in Cebu as it will be distributed.

Davide also got an assurance from 25 companies based in Cebu that the “interruptible load agreement” will be implemented in cases of power supply shortage.

The program, which started in Cebu, encourages companies to utilize their own power generators during peak hours to avert power shortage.

Bardoquillo also said that there is enough power supply this summer, where demand is expected to peak, because of the interconnected grid in the Visayas.

Representatives from CEDC, Cebu Private Power Corporation, Kepco-SPC, NGCP, Cebu Electric Cooperative and the Visyas Electric Company attended the meeting yesterday.