Cusi questions NGCP’s thin power supply warning


“So, what is NGCP doing about it?”

That was Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi’s response to the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines’ (NGCP) warning on the possible thinning of power supply in Luzon this summer, including the election period.

“Increased demand for power during our hotter months, and reduced supply during these same dry months is an annual occurrence, and as System Operator and Grid Operator, the NGCP is very much aware of this cycle,” Cusi said in a statement on Thursday.

The secretary said that NGCP is expected to contribute to the adequacy of power supply, especially with the upcoming automated presidential elections on May 9. He added that the Department of Energy (DOE) is working on “bringing the power industry together to work toward a holistic solution.” 

“Hence, in addition to their public advisory, the  DOE is very interested to hear from [NGCP] about the steps they have taken, or are taking, to address the situation, particularly in preventing the occurrence of a power interruption,” Cusi said. 

Over the weekend, Cusi emphasized the importance of planning power plants’ maintenance shutdowns. The secretary said this following the DOE’s meeting with NGCP last Friday on the 2022 power outlook. The meeting was particularly triggered by the Luzon Yellow Alerts on January 10 and 11. NGCP, however, later pointed out that the Grid Operating Maintenance Program (GOMP) is not always strictly followed.

Under the GOMP, power generation companies are required to submit their proposed maintenance schedules in advance to help the DOE and other energy-related entities identify the power supply and demand projections for the year. Lack of GOMP compliance was a key factor that led to the Luzon Red Alerts in May and June last year.

Cusi also asked NGCP if it has checked whether all power stations are available and connected to the grid, if all congestion issues are addressed, if there are reserves contracted from different parties that could be tapped in during emergencies, and if the GOMP was thoroughly planned. 

“I have already instructed our Power Bureau to look into these matters,” he said. 

NGCP had also called on the government to explore demand-side management strategies to prevent possible power shortages.

The grid firm’s statement on the possible thinning of power supplies had some lawmakers worried that this may interfere with the upcoming elections. 

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, in a Manila Bulletin report, said that these could distort poll results during the elections, adding that the DOE should come up with feasible planning and concrete actions to address the concerns in the Luzon Grid. 

Sen. Risa Hontiveros, meanwhile, called on the Energy Regulatory Commission to assure that there would be no power interruptions during the election period.