Power plant malfunction triggered Mindanao blackout

Posted at 02/28/14 10:44 AM

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATE) - An equipment malfunction caused the massive power outage in Mindanao on Thursday.

The National Transmission Commission says there was no line tripping or no fault in major substations of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines.

"There was no line tripping, no fault of the major substation of the NGCP...We will improve our cooperation so that this will not happen again in Mindanao. This is the first time in the past 12 years, we had some partial blackout but we can manage. But this time it's a total blackout so we are looking at the complete technical operations with the other groups so it will not happen again," engineer Eugene Vicar of Transco's Mindanao systems operations said.

The Agus power plants, where the malfunction occurred, have also returned to normal operations.

Meanwhile, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla said they are still determining if human error was also a factor.

Petilla said an initial report showed the blackout was triggered by a malfunction at the Agus 1 power plant in Lanao del Norte.

"Ang lumalabas na initial report, but we will verify this sa logger, makikita natin doon ang timeline ng pagbagsak, ay yung Agus 1 area sa Lanao del Norte, dito nagsimula yung tripping. Whether ang planta ang nag-trip o linya ng NGCP (National Grid Corporation of the Philippines), transmission, yan ang inalaam natin ngayon," he told DZMM.

"Tsine-check natin ngayon 'yung mga auto-protection switches kung gumana ba ito o hindi gumana at saang banda ang nag-fail. Basically itong Agus 1, maliit lang ito na planta, mga 30-45-MW," he added.

Petilla said the problem at Agus 1 was fixed by Thursday afternoon, and electricity supply was restored in the affected areas.

The DOE chief said they will still investigate the incident, together with NGCP and the power plant.

Asked if the blackout was caused by sabotage, Petilla said the initial report showed there was no trace of sabotage, although he was not ruling it out yet.