Power outages cripple parts of Metro Manila

BenarNews staff
Power outages cripple parts of Metro Manila The city of Manila, seen here on Jan. 8, 2019, suffered sectional power outages on Monday.
Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters

Power outages crippled parts of the Philippine capital Manila and nearby areas on Monday, forcing some schools to send their students home while others stayed open despite climbing temperatures. 

National Grid Corp., the country’s electric power supplier, said there was insufficient power for Luzon, the most populous Philippine island that includes the capital of 16 million people. 

In an advisory, it said the current available capacity in the Luzon grid was only 12,186 megawatts, but the recorded peak demand was 12,468 MW, or 282 MW higher than the available supply. 

“Five power plants are on forced outage, while three others are running on derated capacities, for a total of 1,354 MW unavailable to the grid,” the NGCP said Monday afternoon. 

Antonio Miranda, principal at the General Roxas Elementary School in Manila, said children were allowed to finish their lessons during the day, adding that his school was spared from the outage even as the heat became unbearable. 

“Imagine 40 children and the teacher inside a classroom. Even if we had eight electric fans going full blast, it’ll just spread the hot air,” he said. “And imagine still if we were cut off from the grid?” 

He said that his daughter, a college nursing student elsewhere in the city, was allowed to go home early because of the outage. 

Hours later, rain fell on the Metro Manila region. 

The lack of power supply is hitting Manila at the peak of the dry season, when temperatures can reach a maximum of 38 to 40 degrees Celsius (100 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit). 

AccuWeather reported that the capital should see high temperatures fall to about 33 degrees Celsius (92 degrees Fahrenheit) for the rest of the week.

NGCP said a transmission line and two units of Masinloc Power Plant tripped shortly after noon on Monday, knocking out portions of the Luzon grid and plunging swathes of Manila into outages.

It said five power plants were on “forced outage” while three others were running below capacity. 

“Manual load dropping ongoing. Some areas in Luzon including the Meralco franchise area are experiencing power interruption due to insufficient power supply,” the NGCP said, referring to Manila Electric Co., which distributes power to Manila and nearby areas. 

Following the advisory, Meralco confirmed it was implementing power interruptions for up to two hours in some areas of Metro Manila. 

“We are closely monitoring the situation and are ready to implement additional measures if needed,” Meralco said.

‘The service is erratic’

Meanwhile last week, opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros demanded answers from President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and his energy officials as she complained about the government’s “muted responses” to power grid interruptions nationwide.

“Mr. President, prayer alone is not an adequate government response to the electricity problem. All our grids – from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao – the service is erratic. There are yellow and red alerts in different provinces,” she said. 

“It is unbelievable why the response of the DOE (Department of Energy) is weak even though many provinces are already experiencing service interruptions,” she said at the time.

On May 1, thousands of passengers were left stranded when domestic and international flights were canceled or delayed after a power outage hit the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. 

At the start of this year, more than 65,000 passengers faced delayed, canceled or diverted domestic and international flights at the Manila airport during the New Year’s holiday caused by a power outage. 

In September 2022, Luzon was placed on a “red alert” after coal shortages forced seven power plants to shut down and three others to reduce output. 

Between 2016 and 2021, the NGCP issued 22 red and 154 yellow alerts across all three Philippine grids. Red alerts warn of potential blackouts while yellow alerts warn of potential brownouts because of excessive demand.

Jeoffrey Maitem in Davao City, Philippines, Jojo Riñoza and Gerard Carreon in Manila contributed to this report.


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