ERC issues strict rules on power plant shutdowns

Power plant operators will now have to comply with new, stringent rules on planned and unplanned shutdowns issued recently by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to promote accountability as well as ensure stable electricity prices.

The allowable number of days that power plants should undergo shutdowns are spelled out in the “Rules for the Interim Reliability Performance Indices and Equivalent Outage Days Per Year of Generating Units” which specify the planned and unplanned outage allowances in days per year.

“The ERC, as the regulatory body of the electricity sector, needs to ensure that generating plants are well-maintained and perform within the benchmark/standard per technology for all generating units. This will not only ensure reliable supply but will also stabilize the price of electricity due to less or non-exposure to the volatile prices in the spot market,” said ERC Chairperson and CEO Agnes VST Devanadera.

The rules provide for an interim benchmark which shall apply to generation companies with conventional and non-variable Renewable Energy (VRE) generating plants that are connected to the grid, including embedded generating plants with an aggregated capacity of 5 MW and above.

Devanadera said the rules seek to set a reliability performance benchmark per technology for all generating units to lessen outages and ensure predictable power supply and rate; promote accountability of generation companies, the system operator, and the transmission network provider to achieve greater operations and economic efficiency; and, monitor the actual planned and unplanned outage days of all generating units.

In Catanduanes, thus, diesel power plants have been allowed only 19 days per year on which they will not be available, consisting of 5 days of planned outages and 14 days of unplanned shutdowns.
In the case of hydroelectric power plants, they have been given a total of 29.9 days of unavailability for each year, consisting of 23.1 days of planned shutdowns and 6.8 days of unplanned outages.

The operator and network provider shall utilize the allowable planned outage days specified in the rules as guide in preparing the Grid Operating and Maintenance Program (GOMP).

In case planned outages beyond what is allowable in the rules will be resorted to, the operator shall provide a report as to the reason for such deviation, the ERC said.

On the other hand, the standard unplanned outages for the generating plants shall be strictly observed. Not only shall this ensure that the generating plants will be properly maintained, this will also consequently result to lesser incidents and occurrences of unplanned outages, it added.

“By setting and giving specific parameters on the standard planned and unplanned outages, the generation companies are obligated to ensure that the generating plants are properly maintained and, thus, lessen the unplanned outages,” the ERC Chair added.

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