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Baka magka-blackout! Luis Campos urges DOE to check Luzon’s energy hub amid Taal Volcano’s unrest

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Makati City Rep. Luis Campos has called on the Department of Energy (DOE) to look into possible threats to Luzon’s energy infrastructure in Batangas province as the possibility of Taal Volcano’s explosive eruption still looms.

In a statement Sunday, January 19, Campos said there are concerns that Taal Volcano’s unrest might impede with the operations of vital power plants, as well as oil and gas installations in Batangas.

“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,” he said.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said Taal Volcano could send a cloud of rocks, dust, gas and pyroclastic materials into the atmosphere if an “explosive eruption” categorized as Alert Level 5 happens. The volcano is currently on Alert Level 4.

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.

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.