MERALCO: Luzon Grid may need power capacity

MERALCO Luzon Grid may need power capacity

The Luzon grid may need more power capacity from new generation power plants following a sudden spike in demand in the Meralco franchise area for the third quarter.

Meralco expressed concern with the power situation in the grid with three yellow alerts raised since August 30, company senior VP and utility economics head Lawrence Fernandez said at the sides of a forum hosted by the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines.

“Our concern, while the situation hasn’t reached red alert yet, is that when power plants trip, it will trigger an automatic load dropping (ALD) which means some of the customers lose electric service because of the tripping of some power plants,” Fernandez said.

Two of the yellow alerts, recorded on September 9 and 16, were weekends.

A yellow alert signifies that there were not enough reserves to cover the largest running generating unit at the time but does not necessarily lead to power outages.

Fernandez added that the yellow alerts were because of high demand – especially for a weekend – and power plants that go on forced or unplanned outage.

On Sept 8, the Sual 1 in Pangansinan, GN Power 1 and 2 in Mariveles, Bataan and San Gabriel in Batangas.

These yellow alerts that occurred even when Meralco projected flat growth in power demand for this year mean that new capacities must be embedded into the Luzon Grid, Fernandez said.

“While more than 1,000 megawatts (MW) of power plants have commissioned in the last year, the rise in demand is soaking up new capacity which means we need more and more capacity to be built in the coming months,”

Earlier this year, Meralco saw a softer growth in sales coming following a surge in sales volume last year due to the El Niño phenomenon and election-related activities.

“We were not expecting the growth in demand that we experience this year coming off from 2016 with the El Nino and election year,” he said.

Fernandez said that electricity consumption grew almost four percent-to-date despite having a robust growth of 8.1 percent in 2016.