WORST-CASE SCENARIO: Energy officials said there could be power interruptions on May 13

Cusi asks for third party to assess PH power sector

The Department of Energy (DOE) fears there could be one-hour rotating brownouts in the upcoming midterm elections.

Energy Assistant Secretary Redentor E. Delola said that this could be the worst-case scenario if the forced outages of the power plants continue.

“The worst-case scenario, like what happened on April 10, 11 and 12… if we expect that there would still be outages and the demand is higher, then we will have a problem,” Delola was quoted in a Manila Bulletin report.

The DOE remains positive that there will be enough supply on May 13 as many establishments will be closed for the election, which will result in lower demand for electricity.

However, the day after elections might have a supply problem.

Delola said that if the forced outages reached a capacity of 1,500 MW, rotating brownouts are possible to happen.

“Integrity of the election results will raise questions if brownouts happen,” said House Committee on Energy Chairman Lord Allan Velasco.

Despite DOE Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi’s assurance that supply will be sufficient during the election, another power plant in the Luzon grid tripped, which is the 382-megawatt Pagbilao 1 coal-fired power plant of the Aboitiz group.

This triggered another red alert issuance on May 3 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and at 4 p.m.

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) said there was a “generation deficiency brought about by the high system demand and the outage of the Pagbilao 1 plant.”

Other power plants that were still on forced outages since Friday were the 300 MW Calaca-2 coal-fired plant; and the 316 MW GNPOwer 2 power facility.

All power plant maintenance will be postponed for a week before and after the election period. There will be new power plant capacities as supplementary supply.

Meanwhile, a Joint Congressional Power Commission (JCPC) hearing was held last May 2 to discuss capacity building and additional power supply as solutions for the issuance of red and yellow alerts on Luzon grid.

The hearing was led by Chairs Senator Sherwin Gatchalian and Congressman Lord Allan Velasco.

Congressman Velasco told industry players that one of the solutions to solve the shortage in supply is to inject new capacities to the grid.

“Let’s build capacity, damihan natin generation companies (add more generation companies).”

To answer his suggestion, DOE Secretary Cusi aid that “DOE is trying to build capacity and we are technology neutral.”

For their part, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Commissioner Catherine Maceda said that “Our intention is to provide more power, that is why we are working full time to address the issue of outages and pending power supply agreements. We need to address issue of supply by speeding up decisions on PSA’s.”

During the JCPC hearing, DOE said that should there be any simultaneous outages during election there are contingency measures in place such as, the Interruptible Load Program and provision of generator sets to key election areas.