By: Emme Rose Santiagudo
Power players involved in the generation, transmission, and distribution services in Panay Island will meet on Nov 11, 2019 to come up with a better relay coordination to prevent massive power outages just like what happened last week.
The meeting will include representatives from the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), Global Business Power Corp (GBPC), Palm Concepcion Power Corp (PCPC), and Panay Electric Company (PECO).
NGCP manages the transmission lines which links power producers to distribution utilities.
GBPC and PCPC run coal-fired power plants in the city and province of Iloilo while PECO is the current power distributor in Iloilo City.
Engr. Petronilo Madrid, GBP First Vice President-Panay Site Operations, said the main goal of the meeting is to discuss the twin power outages that hit Panay and parts of Negros on Oct 29 and 30.
“Come November 11, we will have a meeting with NGCP, PECO, PCPC. The reason we will have a meeting is to primarily discuss the incidents last October 29 and October 30,” Madrid said in an interview on the sidelines of the Power 101 Media and Business Forum hosted by GBPC on Wednesday.
The first blackout hit Iloilo, Guimaras, Aklan, Capiz, and portions of Negros Occidental at around 5:27 p.m. on Oct 29.
The following morning, the Negros-Panay 138-kilovolt (kV) submarine cable tripped off, causing another power outage in the provinces of Panay Island.
According to Madrid, the first power outage was caused by a technical problem in the biggest coal-fired power unit operated by Panay Energy Development Corp (PEDC), a GBPC subsidiary, in LaPaz, Iloilo City.
PEDC runs three power plants with a combined capacity of 314 MW.
He explained that they detected a technical problem in one of the motors running the plant’s air compressors due to “increasing temperature.”
“There was an indication of ‘widening temperature’ or overloading of air compressor. We stopped it and when we operated the other motor, its valve did not respond when the new compressor started to build pressure,” he said.
Compressed air is one of the three energy inputs that run in the PEDC power plant, apart from the motors and hydraulic system that operate and stabilize the system.
“Tinatapon niya yung hangin, there is an indication. Air is very essential. Nung nag-drop yung pressure because the instruments are being operated by air, it send signals to stop the boiler,” Madrid explained.
Unfortunately, PEDC Unit 1 was already scheduled for minor repairs on Nov 1 and Nov 2 prior to the power outage.
When Unit 1 of PEDC tripped off in the afternoon of Oct 29, Madrid said they started Unit 2 and prepared for the start-up of Unit 3 but eventually it tripped off due to an imbalance in the boiler.
“During that time, the protection that was activated due to the trippings triggered by the total black out,” Madrid added.
Meanwhile, the power outage on October 30 occurred when the 138-kilovolt (kV) Negros-Panay submarine cable, which is maintained by NGCP, tripped off, he said.
Consumers, particularly in Iloilo City, experienced about 10-12 hours of outage.
Madrid said short-term (one to two hours of power outage) can be traced to problems in the distribution system. Long-term black outs or power outages lasting for more than two hours are commonly caused by problems in the generation side.
While most power outages are unforeseen, other systems should not be affected if there was good relay coordination from the transmission to generation and distribution sides. Power industry experts call this as isolating the problem to prevent the collapse of the whole power grid.
“If there was good relay coordination, tripping lang ang mangyayari and there will be no systems affected. Yung problem kasi minsan, ma-address mo ngayon yung isang problem tapos may lalabas naman na isa, tapos mag-aadjust ka na naman. The good thing about close coordination among players is that naa-address and na-miminize naming ang outages,” he added.
Madrid was mum when asked about the alleged irregular 5-day shutdown of PCPC plant in Concepcion, Iloilo and claims of sabotage by PECO.
“After five days sila bumalik, I am sure nagkaroon sila ng technical problem but I cannot speak in behalf of them,” he said.
PCPC disconnected from the Visayas grid on Oct 29, 2019 at 5:27 p.m. and was synchronized with the grid on Nov 2 at 11 a.m.
Meanwhile, Madrid said he is hopeful that they will to come up with better relay coordination and possible adjustment of protection among power players on their discussion on Monday.