DOE to probe blackouts in Panay and Negros Occ.

Power supply in Iloilo City has normalized after the twin blackouts on Oct 29 and 30, 2019, but energy officials will keep digging into what happened. (F. A. Angelo)

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

The central office of the Department of Energy is now investigating the two power outages that hit Panay Island and portions of Negros Occidental in a span of two days.

According to Engr. Jose Rey Maleza, director of DOE-Visayas, incident reports will be submitted by concerned parties and entities to their central office for investigation.

“The incident report will be submitted by concerned parties sa amon central office. Our central office will issue an official statement in due time,” he said in an interview on Thursday.

A blackout first hit Iloilo, Guimaras, Aklan, Capiz, and portions of Negros Occidental at around 5:27 p.m. on Oct 29, 2019.

According to the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), it activated its protection after monitoring a disturbance in the grid, causing sudden loss of power supply to distributors in Panay and Negros.

Transmission services normalized at around 8:57 p.m. and power supply was gradually restored in some of the affected areas.

NGCP operates the transmission lines that deliver electricity from power plants to distribution utilities.

After NGCP activated its protection schemes, Global Business Power Corp. (GBP) said all coal-fired power plants of its subsidiary Panay Energy Development Corp (PEDC) tripped off at around 5:20 p.m.

“At around 5:20 p.m., our PEDC units 1, 2 and 3 tripped off. We are investigating what is the possible cause of the blackout,” GBPC said in a statement.

NGCP Information Officer Michelle Visera said they are still investigating the cause of the power outage on Tuesday.

Power supply was fully restored at past 10 p.m. Tuesday.

On Wednesday morning, the Negros-Panay 138-kilovolt (kV) submarine cable tripped off causing another power outage in the provinces of Panay Island.

According to GBPC, the sudden drop in system voltage and collapse of the grid affected its power plants in LaPaz, Iloilo City.

Before the submarine cable incident, power supply in Panay was limited because of the Tuesday blackout.

Meanwhile, Visera said that the submarine cable went back online 30 minutes after the incident.

At around 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Panay Electric Co. (PECO) said it was ready to distribute power to 30 to 40 percent of Iloilo City due to unstable supply.

“As per Global Power, they mentioned na pwede nila masupplayan ang other areas of Iloilo City but ginapunggan sila sang NGCP to do that because NGCP nag-relay nga unstable ang ila supply amo na ginapunggan nila si GBP maubos supply until mastabilize nila ila transmission lines,” PECO Communications Manager Mikel Afzelius said.

But Visera clarified that their lines were already back online earlier that day and ready to accept supply again. Since coal plants take several hours to restart and return to normal operations, supply was tepid.

Power supply was fully restored in the city Wednesday evening.

The residents clamored that some of them experienced 10-12 hours of blackout.

Meanwhile, Maleza reiterated that there is sufficient power supply in the Visayas even before the power outages.

“We have a sufficient power supply in the Visayas prior to the other night. Ang natabo lang is a technical trouble which is unforeseen but since that night, we are back to normal operations even though may iban pa nga unit sang planta nga wala pa nakabalik in normal condition,” he said.

Maleza said the sufficient power supply in Visayas will hopefully continue until the holidays.

“I am hoping mapadayon ni siya ang normal operations until such time nga mag-abot sa December. So far, subong wala naman kita nakita nga problem. Ang natabo to ya technical trouble, ind gid na malikawan,” he noted.