DOE urged to check possible threats to Luzon’s energy hub in Batangas


Luzon power grid. (Photo courtesy by CNNPH)

MANILA, Philippines — With Taal Volcano’s “explosive eruption” on the horizon, the Department of Energy (DOE) has been urged to look into possible threats to Luzon’s energy infrastructure in Batangas province and to prepare contingency plans if necessary.

“There are concerns that the volcano’s looming violent flare-up might get in the way of the operations of vital power plants as well as oil and gas installations in Batangas,” Makati City Rep. Luis Campos Jr. said on Sunday.

 “Apart from the vulnerability of (power plant) turbines to damage from severe ashfall, there are also concerns about the sensitivity of fuel facilities in the province to recurring volcanic tremors,” Campos said.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has warned that Taal’s threatening “explosive eruption” could send a cloud of rocks, dust, gas and pyroclastic materials into the atmosphere, which may then collapse and create a fast-moving flow of hot volcanic matter.

Batangas is home to seven power plants with an aggregate installed capacity of 4,305 megawatts (MW), or one-third of Luzon’s power generating capacity.

These plants are:

  • First Gen Corp.’s 1,000-MW Sta. Rita Combined Cycle Power Plant, 500-MW San Lorenzo Combined Cycle Power Plant, 414-MW San Gabriel Combined Cycle Power Plant, and 97-MW Avion Open Cycle Power Plant, all in Batangas City;
  • SMC Global Power Holdings Corp.’s 1,200-MW Ilijan Combined Cycle Power Plant, also in Batangas City;
  • Semirara Mining and Power Corp.’s 850-MW Coal-Fired Power Plant in the Municipality of Calaca; and
  • AC Energy Philippines Inc.’s 244-MW Circulating Fluidized Bed Thermal Power Plant, also in Calaca.

First Gen earlier reported that its energy complex was operating as usual, but acknowledged that “accumulating ashfall has the potential to cause damage to the plants’ gas turbines, which in turn could affect their ability to deliver power.”

Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp., which operates a 110,000-barrel per day oil refinery in Batangas City, previously reported “normal business operations” while it “remains alert.”

Phoenix Petroleum Philippines Inc. also runs a petrochemicals terminal in Calaca.

Calaca lies just outside the designated 14-kilometer danger zone around Taal, but has nonetheless been struck by a series of volcanic tremors, according to Phivolcs.

Volcanic tremors are long-period earthquakes produced by vibrations generated by the underground movement of magma or other fluids within the volcano. (STACY  ANG/IAMIGO/

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