Cebu brownouts highlight vital need for power reserves

August 28, 2009 CEBU CITY—The need to address the ongoing power-reserves crisis in the Visayas was highlighted once again when large areas including Metro Cebu had rotating brownouts on Thursday. This, after several plants in Toledo City, Negros and Leyte experienced difficulties.

The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) shed off 34 megawatts (MW) from the franchise area of the region’s biggest distributor, Visayan Electric Co. (Veco), late in the morning, according to the utility’s spokesman Ethel Natera.

The morning’s one-hour shortage spread to residential areas in the south of the city. The Veco franchise area consumes an average of more than 350 mW at peak daily.

After lunch another outage hit uptown business strips along Gen. Maxilom (Mango) and Gorordo avenues, Ramos and Escario streets and barangays Sambag 1 and 2.
The spokesman for NGCP, Belinda Canlas, did not respond to inquiries regarding the outages.

The brownouts would have been more massive if not for the uninterruptible power supply program initiated by Veco, local government units and the business sector.

Under the program, the largest consumers under Veco voluntarily cut their supply from the utility and run their generator units. The released supply is then rechanneled to other customers. On Wednesday San Miguel Corp., AD Gothong, Elizabeth Mall, Metro Gaisano-Ayala and Metro Gaisano Mandaue ran their generator sets under the program.

The business sector in Metro Cebu have been clamoring since last year for the implementation of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) in the Visayas in order to encourage private power providers and companies with excess capacity to sell their power to the grid adding to the available supply.

The Department of Energy insists, however, the WESM could not be implemented until the power-supply situation in the region stabilizes.

The Visayan Supply Augmentation Auction meant to augment the power in the region since early this year, but this has not yet been implemented.

New power plants in the Cebu-Negros-Panay grid include the 245-MW coal-fired plant of Cebu Energy Development Corp. in Toledo City that would be online by the first half of 2010.

The 200-MW plant of Kepco Salcon Power Corp. won’t be in operation until 2011. The grid consumes an estimated 900 MW at peak hours. (Businessmirror)

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