‘LOOK FOR BACKUP POWER’: MORE Power assures ‘100%’ supply after weekend outage

Energy experts pushed some recommendations to Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas to avert another massive blackout. Among the recommendation is to tap power generators like Panay Energy Development Corp. in LaPaz as emergency backup supply. (Photo courtesy of Mai Montelijao)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

Energy experts in Iloilo City pushed some recommendations that will avert another massive outage that halted businesses and literally roasted residents for three days last week.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas met with the experts following the 3-day blackout that hit Western Visayas from Thursday to Friday due to disruptions in the Visayas grid which is operated by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).

Treñas shared the following recommendations with Daily Guardian via text message:

–          Procure enough contingency or spinning reserve for NGCP’s Visayas grid, as contracts with the Global Business Power Corporation, including 30 megawatts (MW) in Toledo, Cebu plants and 26MW in Panay Energy Development Corporation (PEDC) plants expired without replacement last April 26;

–          Make available the dispatchable (standby) reserve, citing a 50MW contract awarded by NGCP to Salcon Diesel Plants in Dingle town recently, but was observed to seemingly not have helped for still unknown reasons;

–          Review and adjust power plants’ dispatch protocols, starting with the bigger plants;

–          Review and adjust [DUs’] loading protocols; and

–          Review and adjust NGCP’s, power plants’ and DUs’ system protection settings.

A recommendation specific to MORE Power, Iloilo City’s power distributor, as an emergency measure was contracting a bilateral emergency power supply agreement (EPSA) on a yearly basis with the approval of the Department of Energy (DOE).

Sources privy to the meeting with Treñas pointed out that PEDC plants operated by Global Business Power Corp. in LaPaz district can directly supply power to Iloilo City via the existing transmission facilities that link the coal-fired power plants to MORE Power.

The coal-fired power plants in LaPaz were established to solve the power shortage that plagued Iloilo City in the 90s to mid-2000s.

Treñas said he will also share the recommendations with DOE Secretary Raphael Perpetuo Lotilla and other key players in the energy industry “for their study.”


Meanwhile, Iloilo City’s distribution utility (DU) on Monday assured the public that there is no indication of any major disturbance in the grid that might cause another massive blackout.

Engr. Bernard Bailey Del Castillo, MORE Electric and Power Corporation (MORE Power) Deputy Head for Network Operations, told Aksyon Radyo Iloilo that they have not yet received any advice from NGCP as to any possible problems in the grid.

“Since 3:00 a.m. in the morning [on Sunday] and until today, so far all our substations [and] feeders are energized 100 percent, so the generated supply was able to accommodate [us]. We have received no advice from the NGCP [of an] imminent Manual Load Dropping since yesterday, and hopefully, it will continue this week,” Del Castillo said in a radio interview.

When asked for a possible explanation for the outage, Del Castillo cited a statement from NGCP pointing to a “Bacolod-based” DU as the source of the disturbance which rattled the whole grid starting April 27.

While the NGCP initially did not name the DU, Senator Raffy Tulfo on Sunday revealed that the grid operator was referring to Central Negros Electric Cooperative (CENECO), which serves Bacolod City and other parts of Negros Occidental.

CENECO is also a potential joint venture partner of MORE Power, with talks being floated in the last few months, and labor groups issuing a statement of support for the deal on Monday.

“It triggered a tripping at the [Palm Concepcion Power Corporation] power plant [in Concepcion, Iloilo]. Because of that tripping (sic), there was a big disturbance. It was difficult to fathom what happened in Bacolod, as explained by the NGCP. It cascaded to here in Panay, and that’s why it is difficult for us to predict what will happen now,” he explained.

Del Castillo added that amid various statements that come out, there was still no clarity as to which entity was liable for last weekend’s power struggle, suggesting that there may be further investigations from regulators.

He said that within Panay Island, all power plants carry up to 600 megawatts (MW), enough to respond to regular power demand, and likewise making the plants capable of providing power to outside of the island.

“For now, based on our monitoring, [demand] is at maybe around 300 to 400 [MW], the generating capacity connected to the grid[.] I believe there are plants which are still under maintenance. But, if all [power] plants are online, it could really reach between [500 to 600] MW,” he explained.