SNAP-Benguet pays ERC fine without prejudice, files motion for reconsideration

Posted on November 29, 2021

SN Aboitiz Power-Benguet (SNAP-Benguet) filed a motion for reconsideration on Friday, November 12, following the Energy Regulatory Commission’s decision to impose an administrative penalty for allegedly breaching allowable forced outages in March and April of this year.

The renewable energy company, which operates the Ambuklao and Binga hydroelectric power plants in Benguet, paid the fine of P875,000 to the ERC on Monday, November 8. SNAP-Benguet’s Vice President for Corporate Affairs Mike Hosillos said, “The validity of the penalty, including some factual findings of the ERC, are part of the issues raised by SNAP-Benguet in our effort to seek a reconsideration of the ruling by the Honorable Commission.”

SNAP-Benguet maintains that the Ambuklao hydroelectric power plant did not breach the maximum unplanned outage days allowed by the ERC. In a letter to the regulatory agency dated May 17, 2021, the company explained that it had made revisions from its original Three-Year Grid Operating and Maintenance Program (GOMP) in anticipation of changes in the availability of inflow/water (making the plant available when it can produce energy) and the need for earlier replacement of critical mechanical parts to prevent further outage and damage to the units. It had in fact completed its maintenance schedule for the three units on May 4, prior to the rotational blackouts that occurred in late May and early June this year.

SNAP-Benguet’s revisions to its Annual Planned Maintenance (APM) schedule were submitted to and were approved by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), the agency tasked by the DOE to approve and assess any changes in the maintenance schedules requested by generators. The company’s final APM schedule approved by NGCP covers the period from March 20 to April 4, 2021.

SNAP-Benguet has said in previous statements that Ambuklao’s total unplanned outage days record is 6.41 days, still within the 6.8-day unplanned outage cap as stipulated in the ERC Resolution No. 10, Series of 2020. It has updated this to 5.39 days, which excludes the outage hours necessitated by NGCP’s maintenance activities and therefore out of management control. It has also said that low water availability in the reservoirs is expected during the dry season. This is the reason that the maintenance activities of hydro plants are typically scheduled around the second quarter of each year, which is allowed under Section 3.2 of DOE Circular No. 2020-02-004 stating that “only hydroelectric power plants shall be allowed to conduct power plant maintenance during the peak quarter.”

In its motion for reconsideration, SNAP-Benguet stated that Article IV of Resolution No. 10 does not require an outage to be reflected in the GOMP before it is considered planned. SNAP-Benguet further explained that the revised schedule of Ambuklao Unit 1’s annual preventive maintenance is actually reflected in the 2021 revised GOMP.

In its decision, the ERC said that although SNAP-Benguet “showed proof that the three (3) request letters were approved by NGCP, it failed to show that the same letters were approved by the Department of Energy. While the NGCP has an essential role in ensuring energy security of the country as the System Operator, NGCP [allegedly] has no power to approve the GOMP, which power is [supposedly] clearly vested with the DOE under Section 3.3 of DOE Circular No. 2020-02-0004.”

SNAP-Benguet asserts that the DOE granted authority to NGCP to approve amendments to the GOMP without the DOE’s consent. Section 3.5 of the same DOE Circular states that “[a]ny amendment or change of schedule due to emergency situations of the Generating Facility shall be approved by [NGCP as the SO] and the DOE shall be notified accordingly.”

“With due respect, we hope that the Honorable Commission reconsiders their decision in light of the evidence we have presented. We remain committed to cooperating with the ERC as we work to resolve this matter,” Hosillos said.

About SNAP:

SN Aboitiz Power (SNAP) is a joint venture of Scatec and Aboitiz Power Corporation (AP).

Scatec is a Norway-based leading renewable power producer that delivers affordable and clean energy worldwide. As a long-term player, Scatec develops, builds, owns, and operates solar, wind, and hydro power plants and storage solutions. It has more than 3.5 GW in operation and under construction on four continents and more than 500 employees. The company is targeting 15 GW capacity in operation or under construction by the end of 2025. Scatec is headquartered in Oslo, Norway and listed on the Oslo Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol ‘SCATC’.

AP is the holding company of the Philippines-based Aboitiz Group’s investments in power generation, distribution, and retail electricity services. It advances business and communities by providing reliable and ample power supply at a reasonable and competitive price, and with the least adverse effects on the environment and host communities.

SNAP owns and operates the 105-MW Ambuklao and 140-MW Binga hydroelectric power plants in Benguet; the Magat hydroelectric power plant which has a nameplate capacity of 360 MW and maximum capacity of 388 MW on the border of Isabela and Ifugao; and the 8.5-MW Maris hydro in Isabela. The non-power components such as dams, reservoirs, and spillways are owned, managed, and operated by the government.