Consumer group calls for transparency on power plant outages

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In light of possible electricity supply shortfall in the coming summer months, consumer advocacy group Laban Konsyumer Inc. called for power generation companies to disclose their plant maintenance schedule for this year until 2022.

“The maintenance schedule of the power plants are not commercial and proprietary information. The disclosure of such information promotes accountability and transparency and serves the purpose of checks and balances amongst stakeholders, regulators, and consumers. All types of consumers, whether industrial, commercial, and residential, can better prepare their operational plans during the period,” Laban Konsyumer Inc. President Victorio Mario A. Dimagiba was quoted as saying in a BusinessWorld report.

Moreover, Dimagiba said that members of the Philippine Independent Power Producers Association (PIPPA) should have been present to inform consumers of the power supply and maintenance schedule during the summer months.

This was in response to Electric Power Industry Management Bureau Director Mario C. Marasigan’s claim during a briefing on Friday, February 21, that the Department of Energy (DOE), along with industry stakeholders, had agreed on an action plan to address supply issues from April to June.

According to the report, the DOE disclosed that peak demand for 2020 is at 12,285 MW for Luzon, 2519 MW for Visayas, and 2,278 for Mindanao. Moreover, DOE expressed that, while there is enough power capacity at present, yellow or red alerts may be raised, depending on the volume of forced power plant outages.

The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) revealed that the Luzon grid would need around 4 percent of the peak demand, or around 491 MW, to be stabilized. In addition, it also needs to maintain power equivalent to the largest part online, usually equivalent to 647 MW, as contingency power to support the grid should the power plant be forced to shut down.

In accordance with guidelines, should the net operating margin fall below these numbers, the NGCP issues a yellow alert. If the power supply falls below the system peak demand, it issues a red alert; thus, rotating power interruptions may be enforced to protect the integrity of the power grid.

Marasigan claimed that the concurred action plan is still a work-in-progress. However, he assured that it would ensure that Luzon is saved from a red alert during summer; and in case there would be a red alert status, he expressed that Meralco’s interruptible load program (ILP) is in place to ease power demand

Hence, Meralco said it was soliciting for more enrollment in the ILP.

“[We’re targeting] between 600 to 700 [MW]. DOE set a meeting with the Retail Electricity Supplier (RES) association [because] most of them are customers of retailers. Hopefully after that, we’ll get more enrollees/ THere are customers who were in the program before and when they switched suppliers, they did not re-contract. We’re hoping that they can re-contract. They can come back to the program,” Meralco Vice-President and Head of Utility Economics Lawrence S. Fernandez said in the report.

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