Napocor asks for “one more week”
posted 30-Jul-2018  ·  
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(UPDATED July 26, 2018: The 3.6-megawatt diesel genset has started running since yesterday, after personnel of the National Power Corporation (NPC) tested it last Monday and slowly brought it back to the Catanduanes power grid nine months after its sudden shutdown. Yesterday, the genset production was limited to 500 kilowatts, to be ramped up to 1.8 MW in the afternoon before being shut down again for an inspection of its bearings. NPC expects the genset to be producing 2.6-MW once it is commercially on-line, effectively ending the power shortage and its rotating brownouts.)

With the island’s power supply deficit hovering near three megawatts, the National Power Corporation (NPC) last week sought the understanding of the frustrated public as it promised yet again to finally operate the long-idled Daihatsu 3.6-MW diesel genset anytime this week.

NPC Catanduanes plant superintendent Engr. Edwin Tatel told the Tribune that President Pio Benavidez, who had vowed to have the power plant operational by July 12, has been calling his office daily to monitor the progress of the rehabilitation work at the plant.

He disclosed that work at the plant has been delayed by the need to open up the genset after it failed to start despite the replacement of several parts.

The team, which has been here for almost three weeks, has been working daily on the genset and found damaged bearings and crankshaft as well as congealed bunker fuel and lube oil that has turned black and sticky.

Engr. Tatel said that the requested spare parts were scheduled to arrive Sunday (July 22), with the technicians to try to start the genset after one or two days. If the genset operation fails yet again, the team may have to open up the piston assembly and replace stocked-up or defective ones.

Once the 3.6-megawatt genset is run, Napocor would limit its production of electricity to just 2.6-MW, just enough to cover the deficit. It is claimed that the power firm cannot risk further worsening the damage to some parts of the genset long before its planned heavy preventive maintenance this coming December 2018.

The Board of Directors of the First Catanduanes Electric Cooperative, Inc. (FICELCO) has reportedly passed a resolution requesting NPC to operate the genset without penalizing the cooperative for drawing electricity in excess of the approved 3.4-MW contracted production.

Amidst the rotating brownouts that is testing the patience of over 55,000 member-consumers, a bit of good news came last Friday from NPC with the operation of the 1.1-MW mobile diesel genset sent by its supplier, Frontier Power Technologies and Allied Services, Inc., as substitute for the genset of similar capacity that it delivered at Marinawa Diesel Power Plant more than two years ago.

Unit 7 failed to start right after delivery and has not been run since then, forcing Napocor to ask the supplier to replace the unit entirely.

The replacement, slightly-used genset that was installed at the NPC switchyard is supposed to produce at least 800 kiliowatts but was limited to 500-kW on its initial run due to high temperature. It arrived in June 2018 but repairs had to be made at the site, Tatel stated.

If it delivers the same amount of electricity after Sunday (July 22), it will at least shave a portion of the projected power supply deficit of 2.64 megawatts.

In an interview at his Marinawa office last Friday, General Manager Raul Zafe bared that the FICELCO board has already given him the authority to prepare and release to Sunwest Water & Electricity Co. (SUWECO) the documents needed as pre-filing requirements of the gensets covered by the controversial 2nd Amendment of the Electricity Supply Agreement (ESA).

The documents, once completed, will be filed jointly by the two parties before the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), which will be asked to issue provisional authority to SUWECO to run the gensets and supply power to FICELCO.

The board will have to issue a separate resolution authorizing GM Zafe to sign the joint filing documents prior to submission to ERC.

Sources privy to the goings-on at the cooperative claimed that the board wanted SUWECO to transfer some of its gensets at Solong Diesel Power Plant to the old FICELCO power plant at Marinawa so that the tie line between Balongbong and the Marinawa switchyard would not be overloaded.

The supplier, however, balked at the proposal and instead asked that they be allowed to install new gensets at the FICELCO power plant under the yet-to-be-approved 2nd Amendment.

The board is wary of even considering this as an audit report of the National Electrification Administration (NEA) last year faulted FICELCO officials for approving the ESA amendments without conducting a study of its annual power requirements.

An official is reportedly trying to convince the private power supplier to install the new gensets at the FICELCO compound under the 1st amendment as back-up to the Solong DPP, which will be limited to a maximum of 3-megawatts to prevent overloading at the tie line.

The installation of the gensets will take only one or two days at most, with SUWECO to utilize the existing tie line previously used by the mobile Monark rented diesel gensets.

It is now certain, however, if SUWECO officials would agree to the arrangement.

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