ERC penalizes more firms over unscheduled outages

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Two more power generation firms were penalized by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) for breaching the maximum allowable unplanned outage days for the year.

Team Sual Corp. (TSC) was found administratively liable for having incurred a total excess of 10.68 unplanned outage days for its TSC Unit 1 and 96.2 days for Unit 2. TSC went beyond the limit for the 16.8 days that coal power plants should undergo shutdown. As such, it was ordered to pay P4.8 million.

TSC said Unit 1 was on annual maintenance outage from December 28, 2020 to January 26, 2021 and was on unplanned outage only from January 27 to 28 this year. Unit 2’s unplanned outage occurred from January 3 to April 25 this year.

The company told the commission that the outages covered by the show cause order were approved by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, and the delay of repairs was due to travel restrictions imposed by the government. The repair required technical support from General Electric Co. (GE). However, GE personnel cannot immediately arrive in the Philippines, TSC said.

The ERC said, however, that TSC’s claim was mere allegation since this was “unsubstantiated by evidence and does not deserve consideration.”

According to the ERC, TSC did not provide any evidence that it coordinated with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) for the facilitation of the processing of the travel papers of GE’s personnel. TSC also did not provide the details as to the period when the request was made vis-à-vis the actual arrival of the GE personnel, and their corresponding quarantine period.

The ERC said Uni1 has been operated above its design temperature limit for a substantial period. “Thus, the cause of the outage of TSC’s Unit 1 may be due to negligence, lack of foresight and poor industry practice,” it said in its 18-page decision. “The Commission finds TSC’s explanation unmeritorious.”

“TSC is hereby directed to pay an administrative penalty in the amount of P787,200.00 for TSC Unit 1 and P4,008,000.00 for TSC Unit 2 within 10 days from receipt hereof.”

Meanwhile, Southwest Luzon Power Generation Corp. (SLPGC) recorded 17.4 cumulative unplanned outage days for its coal plant unit 2, which was beyond the maximum allowable unplanned outage days per year for coal plants. It incurred a total excess of 0.54 unplanned outage days from January 3 to April 21 this year.

SLPGC alleged that the emergency shutdowns on December 30, 2020 and April 21, 2021 were due to boiler leaks on account of the thinning of the boiler tube, caused by abrasion of the ash content in coal, which are inherent in coal-fired power plants and are unavoidable.

While the ERC recognized that boiler tube leaks may happen from time to time in coal plants, there are pre-emptive procedures that can be done to prevent or minimize the occurrence of boiler tube leaks, wherein two incidents have been reported over a period of four months.

But ERC said SLPGC failed to adopt these procedures early on. “Evidently, SLPGC’s preventive actions, made only after the outage incidents, demonstrated its failure to exercise good planning and foresight, good industry practice, and due diligence prior to the outage incident,” said the ERC in its 14-page decision.

As such, the ERC declared SLPGC administratively liable for having 0.54 days of unplanned outages in excess of the 16.9 days allowable unplanned outage in violation of Article V, ERC Resolution No. 10, Series of 2020,” the commission ruled.

Meanwhile, the ERC said Masinloc Power Partners Co. Ltd. (MPPCL) is not liable for incurring 47.5 cumulative days of unplanned shutdown for its Unit 3. MPPCL recorded a total excess of 30.7 unplanned outage days from January 3 to April 25 this year.

MPPCL said the number of outage days were due to the lag time resulting from pandemic travel restrictions which prevented the entry of technical experts and the necessary parts from overseas. The absence of these experts and the replacement parts prevented the timely repair of Unit 3.

The ERC noted that when Unit 3 went on outage beginning November 24, 2020, the ERC rules were not yet in effect at the time.

The technical experts arrived on February 1. The repair was completed on February 10 and the unit was back on line on February 20.

“Thus, had it not been for the travel restrictions which prevented the technical experts’ entry into the country from December 22, 2020 up to January 31, 2021, MPPCL could have repaired unit 3 even before the effectivity of ERC Resolution. In view of this, the Commission finds MPPCL not liable.”

Last week, the ERC penalized Power Asset and Liabilities Management Corp., Lopez-led Energy Development Corp. and SPC Island Power Corp. for the same violations.

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