Thursday, September 21, 2017

MRC Allied moves to energy with new solar stake

By: Ronnel W. Domingo - 05:12 AM September 21, 2017

MRC Allied has acquired for $5 million (about P255 million) a 15-percent stake in a 50-megawatt solar power project in Leyte as the company ramps up moves to shift to the energy business.
MRC Allied president Gladys Nalda said in a press briefing Wednesday that the company has an option to increase its interest and that the intention was to get a majority share.
“We are still doing some more evaluation related to this, we are [going through] due diligence,” Nalda said.
The project, located in the town of Palo, is run by Sulu Electric Power and Light Philippines Inc. (Sepalco).
The Sepalco project has a total of 188 solar panels spread over a 70-hectare property. The solar farm is connected to the Visayas grid through a 69-kilovolt line.
Nalda said the acquisition of shares in this project meets MRC Allied’s target of having at least 200 MW of generating capacity under its belt within this year.
Also yesterday, Nalda said shareholders approved the change in the firm’s primary purpose from a property company to a 100-percent energy company.

Meralco registers surprise spike in demand in Q3

By Danessa Rivera (The Philippine Star) | Updated September 21, 2017 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Luzon grid may need more capacity from new generation plants as power distributor Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) has recorded a surprise spike in demand in its franchise area as the year entered its third quarter.
The power distributor said the supply-demand situation in the Luzon grid is now a concern as there have been three instances of yellow alerts raised since Aug. 30, Meralco senior vice president and head of utility economics Lawrence Fernandez said in an interview in a forum hosted by Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX) yesterday.
A yellow alert means there are not enough reserves to cover the largest running generating unit at the time but does not necessarily lead to power outages.
 “Our concern, while the situation hasn’t reached red alert yet, is that when power plants trip, it will trigger an automatic load dropping (ALD) which means some of the customers lose electric service because of the tripping of some power plants,” he said.
With Meralco’s ALD scheme, certain areas in its franchise experienced momentary interruptions to help the grid recover from the generation outages.
Moreover, two of these yellow alerts were raised on a Saturday (Sept. 9 and 16), which usually has low demand.
Fernandez said the yellow alert is a result of a confluence of factors which are high demand, especially for a weekend, and power plants—mostly coal—going on forced or unplanned outage.
On Sept. 9, those that went on unplanned outage were Sual 1 in Pangasinan, GN Power 1 and 2 in Mariveles, Bataan and San Gabriel in Batangas.
The occurrence of yellow alerts when Meralco projected flat growth in power demand this year means the new capacities must be injected into the Luzon grid, Fernandez said.
“While more than 1,000 megawatts (MW) of power plants have commissioned in the last year, the rise in demand is soaking up new capacity which means we need more and more capacity to be built in the coming months. The reports, for example, that a new unit in Quezon will be commissioned, that will help,” he said.
He was referring to the the 420-MW coal-fired power plant expansion of the AboitizPower Corp. and TeaM Energy Corp. in Quezon province, which is expected to start running before end-2017.
Earlier this year, Meralco executives projected softer growth in sales coming following a surge in sales volume last year due to the El Niño phenomenon and the election-related activities.
However, Fernandez said in the Meralco area alone, electricity consumption had grown almost four percent to-date despite having registered a robust growth of 8.1 percent in full-year 2016.
“We were not expecting the growth in demand that we experience this year coming off from 2016 with the El Niño and election year,” he said.
Last year, Meralco breached the 40,000 gigawatt-hour consolidated sales volume. But full-year sales growth stood at three to 3.5 percent in 2016, down compared from a growth of 5.6 percent in 2015.

Meralco concerned over yellow-alert status of Luzon grid

By Lenie Lectura - September 20, 2017

THE Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) expressed concern over the frequent number of times the Luzon grid was placed on yellow alert.
A yellow alert is issued when the contingency reserve is less than the capacity of the largest synchronized unit of the grid. In Luzon this is equivalent to 647 megawatts (MW), or one unit of the Sual power plant in Pangasinan.
The Luzon grid was placed on yellow alert by the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) on August 30, September 9 and September 16.
Fernandez said the yellow alerts were triggered by forced outages of several large power-generation facilities.  In turn, these triggered the Automatic Load Dropping (ALD) scheme of Meralco.  This meant certain areas in Meralco experienced momentary interruptions to help the grid recover from the generation outages.
“A yellow alert means there were not enough reserves to cover the largest-running generating unit at the time,” Fernandez said. “We are concerned. Since August 30, there has been a once-a-week incidence of yellow alert. Our concern is that while it has not led to red alerts, automatic load dropping occurs when power plants trip. This means some of the customers lose electric service because of the tripping of some power plants,” the Meralco official said.
Meralco’s Interruptible Load Program (ILP) participants were also advised to prepare for possible deloading, in case the situation deteriorates.  In the end, the ILP did not need to be activated in the three instances.
Fernandez commented the yellow alerts and the triggering of the ALD mechanism signal the need for additional capacity in the Luzon grid.
“We need new capacities,” he said, pointing out that, as demand for power continues to increase, additional generation supply will be needed, both to meet new demand and to improve the reliability of the electric system.
“While new capacity had been coming in since 2016, demand has also been growing.  In the Meralco area alone, electricity consumption had grown almost 4 percent to date.  This despite having registered a robust growth of 8.1 percent in 2016 due to the effects of El Niño and elections-related spending,” the Meralco official said.