NO MORE LONG OUTAGES?: Power barge to augment Panay’s power needs during blackout

Public hearing on the Joint Application for the Ancillary Services Procurement Agreement between the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) and  MORE Power Barge, Inc. (MP Barge) at the Sangguniang Panlungsod Session Hall, Iloilo City Hall Building, on August 17, 2023. (Rjay Zuriaga Castor photo)

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) is tapping into acquiring an ancillary services procurement agreement (ASPA) with MORE Power Barge, Inc. (MP Barge) to support the transmission of capacity and energy in Panay Island in cases of a total or partial collapse in the power grid.

The joint ASPA between NGCP and MP Barge, an affiliate of MORE Electric and Power Corp., was discussed in a public hearing with the Iloilo City Council’s Committee on Energy and Public Utilities on Thursday afternoon.

NGCP will specifically contract a “black start” service with the MP Barge, where the latter will reenergize the transmission system and provide start-up power to generators who cannot self-start.

MP Barge will restart NGCP’s generation facility with no outside source of power.

It can be recalled that between February and April this year, Western Visayas suffered power blackouts that lasted for an aggregate of 12 to 25 hours.

“In the event of a blackout, MORE Power Barge Inc. will supply electricity to the grid, serving as a backup source that allows the power plants linked to the Panay Power grid to initiate their operations even when the transmission system experiences a complete power loss,” MP Barge vice president Randy Pastolero said.

The power barge can provide up to 24 megawatts to the 69-kiloVolt transmission line of NGCP in the Panay Grid. It is currently moored in the National Power Corporation compound in Barrio Obrero, La Paz district.

According to Pastolero, all the power plants in Panay, such as the Palm Concepcion Power Corporation and the Panay Energy Development Corp., can rely on the black start service for their auxiliary systems to be powered and restarted when needed in cases of blackouts.

“The primary focus of the black start service revolves around initiating the power plants. The entity responsible for determining the allocation of this power supply is the NGCP. In the event of a blackout, the power barge will be activated, delivering a capacity of 24 megawatts. The priority in this situation will be to first allocate power supply to PEDC,” Pastolero explained.

He added that since the service is on an occurrence basis, its impact on the cost of electricity is minimal or just “PHP0.00005”. This will be included in the transmission charges.

Pastolero said MP Barge hopes to get a 5-year provisional authority from the Energy Regulatory Commission by September 2023.

City Councilor Romel Duron, chairman of the committee on energy and public utilities, welcomed the idea and said, “We are in favor. We even encourage that there will be more of this.”

“Perhaps, a significant portion of our energy could be derived from this source. It has a potential capacity of 24 megawatts, which is nearly a quarter of the city’s total energy requirement,” he added.

Duron noted that the energy transmission source comes from Cebu, Negros, and Panay, which makes the region a “dead end.”

“This is particularly beneficial for Panay. In case of power outages, the recovery process can be initiated within minutes. They have their own power generation sources,” he added.

Duron said the city council will pass a resolution to endorse the joint ASPA.