Double the power woes

July 06, 2020

MORE Electric and Power Corporation has doubled the brownouts being experienced by Ilonggos compared to the historical record set by its predecessor power utility Panay Electric Company (PECO).

Based on data from substation logs that had been submitted to the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), MORE Power’s brownout incidents from February to June this year already reached 1,128 minutes of brownouts per person or customer served.

This is roughly double the brownout incidents or service interruptions registered by PECO when it was still the city’s power distributor at: 530 minutes per year for the same February-June timeframe in 2016; 510 minutes per year in 2017; 576 minutes per year in 2018; and 609 minutes per year in 2019.

The reliability standards set by the ERC under Resolution No. 12 Series of 2016 prescribed that a distribution utility (DU) must improve its performance in preceding year/s of operations.

However, in the case of MORE, it was apparent that service efficiency deteriorated as the incidence of brownouts it caused in the last four months alone already breached the performance cap registered by PECO in the past four years.

MORE Power President Roel Castro also told a recent Council hearing in Iloilo City that “there might be two more 13-hour power outages within the year,” and these are on top of the recurring unscheduled brownouts continually tormenting consumers in the area and have been causing them economic losses.

The ERC guidelines for the monitoring of reliability standards direct the DUs to set their own performance targets, and that “the targets for a subsequent year shall be an improvement of the established performance target of the preceding year.” Reliability in power distribution entails that customers are being served with their electricity needs within acceptable standards.

Since MORE had taken over power distribution in Iloilo City, the performance standards it must match or improve on shall be the record instituted by PECO; which was specifically at 609 minutes per year of brownouts in the second quarter of 2019.

Breaching the cap of power interruptions or brownouts could render a DU liable for penalties that have to be imposed by industry regulator ERC.

According to the ERC rules, the parameters to be employed in assessing the reliability performance of DUs like MORE shall be the system average interruption duration index (SAIDI) or the minutes per year of brownouts suffered by a customer; and system average interruption frequency index (SAIFI) which refers to the frequency or how many times the customer experienced brownouts. The other measure of reliability standard is the momentary average interruption frequency index (MAIFI) or the number of short-lived brownouts that a customer would experience at a given period.

The ERC requires DUs to submit quarterly interruption reports that shall present monthly data; and shall also include calculation of the average minutes of interruption per customer due to causes in each of the following categories: power supplier, major storm disaster, scheduled and all other factors, including the unscheduled brownouts.

As provided in the regulatory guidelines, “scheduled" shall refer to interruptions resulting when a distribution transformer, line or distributor-owned substation is deliberately taken out of service at selected time for maintenance or other reasons.

The “all other categories” pertain to outages or brownout incidents resulting from emergency conditions due to equipment breakdown, malfunction or human error.