Breaker malfunction being considered in Mindanao blackout

By Joann Santiago

MANILA, Feb. 28 (PNA) — Preliminary result of the investigation on the Mindanao-wide power outage Thursday showed that breaker malfunction at the more than 20-year old Agus 1 hydro-electric power plant in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur caused the tripping of power lines in the region.

The power outage, reported to have transpired at about 3:53 a.m. Thursday, was earlier attributed to the 255 megawatt (MW) Pulangi 4 in the province of Bukidnon.

Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said the problem could have resulted from the fact that the facility is now old but he discounted immediate replacement of these since nothing is definite yet.

“It needs further investigation,” he said in a briefing Friday.

Replacement of Agus 1’s six breakers will cost at least P12 million, he said.

As of Friday, about 80-85 percent of power is back in Mindanao and the deficiency is due to the lack of capacity in Mindanao and because the 210-megawatt (MW) coal-fired Steag State Power Inc. (SPI) is still down.

SPI provides 20 percent of the country’s second largest island group’s requirements.

Petilla said the breaker that bogged down early Thursday morning is now operating normally, thus, they are still determining why it stopped working Thursday.

According to Eugene Vicar, head of National Grid Corporation of the Philippines’ (NGPC) Mindanao system operations, two unit of Agus 1 failed to work after the tripping.

He said the problem should have been contained in the area after the automatic load dropping, which is a system that prevents any tripping from affecting other power plants.

He, however, said they are puzzled why the tripping affected three units of Agus 2 a few minutes after the automatic load dropping.

He said major cities like Zamboanga, Davao, and Cagayan de Oro were immediately restored of their power supply because this is part of the protocol.

Petilla said a two to three-hour rotating brownout is still being experienced in the region and energy authorities are not sure when power in the region will be fully restored.

He disclosed that before the outage there is already a one-hour rotating power outage in Mindanao because of below 50-mw capacity deficit.

He cited that the rotating outage is not localized but is evenly implemented in the whole of Mindanao. (PNA)