Blackout Hits Manila as Six Power Plants Shut in Philippines

Manila and almost half the largest island in the Philippines suffered a blackout after six power plants shut down.

A “tripping” of transmission lines triggered failures at plants with a combined output of 3,700 megawatts, Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla told reporters today in Manila. National Grid Corp. of the Philippines, which operates the transmission lines, said it was caused by a “generation deficiency.”

The power stations, including the Sual coal plant and Ilijan gas plant managed by San Miguel Corp., supply about 45 percent of the peak-power requirements of Luzon, home to more than 44 million people. Transmission lines and power is expected to be fully restored by midnight, National Grid spokeswoman Cynthia Alabanza said today at a briefing.

About three-quarters of Luzon already has power, and electricity in 89 percent of Manila Electric’s more than 5.1 million customers had been restored, she said.

The shutdown was caused by an “external grid event,” said Julicer Alvis, a manager for the Sta. Rita and San Lorenzo plants.

Petilla ruled out sabotage and said the power outage was likely the result of transmission failures. “The likelihood of five power plants bogging down is extremely unlikely,” Petilla said. “It’s the lines that caused the brownouts.”

The blackout started at 2 p.m. and affected about 40 percent of the franchise area of Manila Electric Co. (MER), the nation’s biggest power retailer, according to spokesman Joe Zaldarriaga.

To contact the reporter on this story: Clarissa Batino in Manila at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lars Klemming at

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