Philippines' main island sees more power outages, exposing vulnerable grid

Rotating outages are expected to continue in parts of Luzon.
Rotating outages are expected to continue in parts of Luzon.PHOTO: ST FILE

MANILA (REUTERS) - The Philippine power grid operator warned on Wednesday (June 2) of further outages on the island of Luzon, which is home to more than half of the country's 110 million people, after electricity supplies were hit by power plant shutdowns.

The electricity output capacity is projected to be 6 per cent short of the requirement on Wednesday, marking a second day of shortfalls on Luzon, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) said in an advisory.

It said available power capacity was expected to reach 11,260 megawatts (MW), with peak demand seen hitting 11,976MW.

Given the shortfall, NGCP said rotating outages were expected to continue in parts of Luzon, including portions of the capital region of metropolitan Manila.

Wednesday's 716MW deficit is nearly four times bigger than the 185MW shortfall on Tuesday, highlighting the precarious electricity supply position that is often felt by consumers at this time of year when demand peaks because of hotter weather.

The outages are another blow for the Philippine economy, which is recovering from a steep pandemic-induced recession, with metropolitan Manila alone accounting for around 40 per cent of economic output.

The outages could also present a challenge for the authorities to ensure steady power supply for Covid-19 vaccine storage facilities.

In a statement, the Department of Energy (DOE) said it has put the Luzon grid on "red alert" status during peak demand hours from 9am to 5pm, and in the evening until 11pm.

The DOE, which attributed the power deficit to several planned and unplanned power plant shutdowns, said the shortage should ease later on Wednesday when one of the plants hit by an unplanned outage comes back on stream, boosting supply by 647MW.

An electricity price cap has also been imposed to protect consumers from possible price spikes, it said.

The DOE expects more than 3,000MW of additional capacity to come on stream in the coming years and is encouraging more investment in renewables and clean power technology after declaring a moratorium on endorsing greenfield coal power plants.