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First Gen cautions on possible curtailment of plant operations

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By MYRNA M. VELASCO

Due to the continued high alert level raised on probable perilous eruption of the Taal Volcano, First Gen Corporation has cautioned that its gas-fired power plants in Batangas may encounter “curtailment in operations,” hence, power supply to the grid could be affected.

“Our power plants in Batangas have continued to operate despite the eruption of Taal Volcano,” a January 14 statement from the company has indicated.

Nevertheless, the Lopez firm puts the public on notice that “it is possible that (the plants) operations may be temporarily curtailed, as authorities have kept their volcano monitoring alert at level 4, indicating that a hazardous eruption is possible within days.”

First Gen has four gas-fired power fleets sited in Batangas – namely the 1,000-megawatt Santa Rita, 500MW San Lorenzo, 414MW San Gabriel and 97MW Avion generating facilities. Essentially, that will be more than 2,000MW of capacity being taken out temporarily from the grid.

Under prevailing circumstances, First Gen said “our gas turbines can potentially suffer damage from the continuous ash fall, which in turn could affect our ability to deliver power.”

The company further stated that “any possible decision to curtail our Batangas power plant operations will be based on safety and good utility practice considerations.”

While at this cusp, First Gen noted that it is closely coordinating with system operator National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) and its capacity off-taker Manila Electric Company (Meralco) as well as with the Department of Energy “should any curtailment be warranted.”

The generated capacity of the Santa Rita, San Lorenzo and San Gabriel plants of First Gen are all under power supply agreements with Meralco, hence, it is the utility firm’s supply portfolio that will be significantly affected when the inevitable happens.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has so far warned on the presence of lightning and thunderstorms in the vicinity of Taal Volcano and downwind side areas, which may then precipitate what is being feared as high risk volcanic eruption.

As noted by the DOE, “energy facilities in Laguna, Rizal, Northern Quezon and Aurora have been advised to undertake the necessary preparations, including the close monitoring of Taal’s volcanic activity in the next three days.”

Batangas is the site of the country’s gas-fired power plants, including the Ilijan plant which is being operated by Korea Electric Power Corporation; while Quezon province hosts many coal-fired power plants supplying to the interconnected Luzon and Visayas grids.

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