Power blackout hits Western Visayas… again

Benigno Aquino Jr. Avenue (Diversion Road) in Mandurriao, Iloilo City is plunged into darkness as of 7:15 p.m. Thursday because of the massive blackout. (Joseph B.A. Marzan photo)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

A system disturbance in the grid early afternoon of Thursday, April 27 caused power outages across Western Visayas.

In a Facebook post around 4 pm Thursday, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) said it detected the disturbance at 1:51 p.m., with a Red Alert warning hoisted between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. that day.

This, after unscheduled power interruptions hit the islands of Panay, Guimaras, and Negros.

A Yellow Alert warning was also issued for the hours of 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

A Red Alert situation indicates that the demand is expected to exceed supply, while Yellow Alert indicates the reserve power falling below the required level but not necessarily indicating a power outage.

Distribution utilities issued their respective advisories shortly after the NGCP’s announcement, including MORE Power (Iloilo City), the Iloilo Electric Cooperatives I, II, and III (Iloilo province), Aklan Electric Cooperative, Antique Electric Cooperative, Guimaras Electric Cooperative, and the Central Negros Electric Cooperative and Northern Negros Electric Cooperative (Negros Occidental).

MORE Power was able to restore power to some of its feeders, but it eventually resorted to Manual Load Dropping in other feeders in Molo and Jaro as advised by the NGCP.

“We are currently experiencing a power supply deficiency due to the limited availability of power plants. As a result, manual load dropping (MLD) may be implemented to prevent the activation of the System Integrity Protection Scheme (SIPS) caused by overloading,” MORE Power said in a 6:00 p.m. advisory.

“Rest assured that we are working closely with NGCP to obtain clearance and restore power supply in all affected areas,” it added.

The outage also affected the operations of power plants, with Panay Energy Development Corporation (PEDC) confirming that its coal-fired power plant had shut down because of the grid disturbance.

“There was a grid disturbance which caused the outages of various power generation plants in Panay, including PEDC. We are exerting all our efforts to restore PEDC’s normal operations the soonest time,” PEDC said in its statement sent to the media on Thursday afternoon.

This is the second time this year that a system disturbance in NGCP’s grid caused a massive power outage, the first being last February 20.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas called on the grid company to urgently apprise the public on how and why the outages had occurred.

“As [Iloilo City mayor] and as a consumer, I am asking NGCP to explain the reasons for the region-wide blackout. I am also asking NGCP to improve their facilities so that these occurrences will not happen. The rapid development [of] our region will be affected by constant blackouts which are all unannounced power interruptions,” the mayor said in his statement.

“All consumers must demand better services from these providers since they are operating a monopoly,” he added.

The privately-owned NGCP is a consortium owned by companies held by Henry Sy Jr. and Robert Coiyuto Jr., who serve as vice-chairpersons on the company’s board of directors, together with their technical partner, the Chinese government-owned State Grid Corporation of China which owns 40 percent.

NGCP has been operating the grids in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao since 2009 via Republic Act No. 9511, taking over from the state-owned National Transmission Corporation (TransCo).

Daily Guardian has reached out to the NGCP for further information on the system disturbance, but it has yet to respond as of this writing.