Veco de-loading program eases impact of shortage

By: Marites Villamor Ilano, Norman V. Mendoza June 02,2015 - 11:42 PM

Hour-long rotation brownouts continued in parts of Metro Cebu yesterday as demand still outstripped supply in the Visayas grid, especially during peak hours.

As of 2 p.m., distribution utility Visayan Electric Co., Inc. (Veco) said four feeders had been affected.

The Visayas grid was short by 256 megawatts as of 1 p.m. yesterday, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) said. Total capacity was only 1,329 MW against a demand of 1,585 MW.

Veco chief operating officer Sebastian R, Lacson said, however, that the voluntary de-loading program has significantly reduced the shortfall in Metro Cebu.

Veco’s share of the shortage yesterday was 23 MW. This was brought down to just 6 MW after three big customers de-loaded a total of 17 MW, Lacson said.

“ILP (Interruptible Load Program) really helps. It makes life more manageable for everyone,” he said in a press conference yesterday. The program provides incentives to customers who agree to de-load from Veco for an hour or two when power supply runs short.

ILP participants yesterday were Apo Cement Corp. of Cemex in Naga, Metro Ayala and Lucky Tableware. Other top participants are SM Prime Holdings and Marco Polo Plaza Hotel.

Lacson assured that the outages will last only a maximum of one hour per feeder.

“Our commitment is to keep it (outage) at one hour or less. We try to distribute the pain so that people experience the least inconvenience,” he said.

The shortage is caused by the emergency shutdown last Saturday of the 200-MW coal-fired power plant of Kepco SPC Power Corp. in Naga. The plant was shut down after fire struck the coal crusher building early Saturday morning.

Repairs started immediately, but will take at least six days. One 100-MW generating unit is targeted to go back online on June 6 while the second 100-MW unit will undergo preventive maintenance until June 22,

If one Kepco SPC generating unit resumes operation as targeted on June 6 or if the 82-MW Cebu Energy Development Corp. (CEDC) is re-commissioned within the week, Lacson said the brownouts should diminish.

“From a Veco perspective, if we just get either CEDC or one unit of Kepco (SPC), we’re good because our ILP can actually cover the demand,” he said. Veco’s 24 ILP partners can de-load up to 63 MW.

Veco needs up to 450 MW during peak hours to serve around 390,000 customers in Metro Cebu. The demand goes down to about 270 MW during off-peak hours.

The utility sources power from CEDC (121 MW), Green Core Geothermal, Inc. (90 MW), Unified Leyte Geothermal Energy, Inc. (57 MW), Cebu Private Power Corp. (62 MW), 1590 Energy Corp. (30 MW) and the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (20-60 MW).

Price spikes may be expected in the Visayas spot market because of the shortage, Lacson said.

Veco’s generation rate for May, however, was low at P5.09 per kilowatt-hour, down from P5.64 per kwH in April and an average of P5.30/kwH in the first quarter.

Lacson attributed the decline to the low WESM prices.

“This is the lowest rate in 14 to 15 months,” he said. The lower rate is reflected in the consumers’ electricity bills.

In Lapu-Lapu City, operations went on smoothly at the Mactan Cebu International Airport despite the power shortage.

The airport sources electricity from the Mactan Electric Co., Inc. (Meco), which lost about 40 percent of its supply after the Kepco SPC shutdown.

Estee Marie Plunket, corporate communications manager of airport operator GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corp., said they have generator sets to ensure there will be no disruption in their operations. Using the generators, however, entails higher costs, she said.

Other vital institutions like the City Hall, police stations and hospitals also have generator  sets.

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