ERC fines more power firms for breaching outage limit


The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has imposed penalties against two more power firms for exceeding the number of unplanned outage days for their hydroelectric power facilities.

CBK Power Co. Ltd. (CBK) was found liable for having incurred 7.5 days of unplanned outages for its Kalayaan Unit 4. For hydroelectric power plants, the ERC allows a maximum allowable unplanned outage of 6.8 days per year.

“CBK is hereby directed to pay the penalty of P416,200 within 10 days of receipt hereof,” the ERC said.

CBK told the ERC that Kalayaan Unit 4’s Outdoor Sealing End (ODSE) was in critical condition due to an internal oil leak but could not have it repaired immediately because of the travel restrictions imposed by the government. CBK was also able to show proof that the pandemic hindered its foreign specialists from entering the country.

But the ERC said CBK’s explanations and submitted evidence focused on the steps it took after the occurrence of the outage incident and that “CBK was eerily silent” as to the cause of the internal leak in ODSE that resulted in an unplanned outage, and whether preventive measures could have prevented the occurrence of the outage.

“The Commission is convinced that CBK has been remiss in its obligations which eventually led to Kalayaan Unit 4’s forced outage beyond the maximum allowable limit,” the ERC said in its 14-page decision.

Based on ERC’s records, SN Aboitiz Power-Benguet Inc.’s (SNAP-BI) Ambuklao Unit 1 hydro plant was out from January 3 to April 25 this year, with a total of 21.1 unplanned outage days.

The ERC said SNAP-BI only provided an explanation for the outage that happened from March 20 to April 4 this year. SNAP-BI argued that the outage from said dates are planned as its three request letters for the revision of its annual preventive maintenance schedule has been approved by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).

SNAP-BI said the outage from March 20 to April 4 this year must be classified as planned outage. As such, its total unplanned outage days are only 6.41 days, which is within the maximum allowable unplanned outage days of 6.8.

But the ERC said SNAP-BI’s arguments are “bereft of merit.” This is because SNAP-BI admitted that it has incurred a total of 21.71 outage days from January 3 to April 25, wherein 15.31 days are planned and 6.41 days are unplanned, the commission said.

More importantly, SNAP-BI’s revised maintenance schedule was not approved by the Department of Energy (DOE).

“Although it showed proof that three request letters were approved by the NGCP, it failed to show that the same letters were approved by the DOE. While the NGCP has an essential role in ensuring energy security of the country as the system operator, NGCP has no power to approve the Grid Operating and Maintenance Program, which power is clearly vested with the DOE,” said the ERC.

The commission maintained that SNAP-BI’s total cumulative unplanned outage days is 21.1 days. It was ordered to pay a fine of P875,000.

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