Despite warnings, DOE still confident of brownout-free elections

DOE elex

Despite possible Yellow Alerts during the summer months in the Luzon Grid, the Department of Energy (DOE) remains confident that there would be no power interruptions throughout the election period. 

“Aside from being confident, we have to be prepared for any contingencies.” Energy Usec. Felix William Fuentebella said in a press briefing on Friday.

Based on the DOE’s latest simulation, in which 500 megawatts (MW) are shaved from the Luzon Grid due to unplanned outages, there would be six yellow alerts projected in the summer months – particularly the last two weeks of April and from the last week of May to the third week of June (image below). The two periods will sandwich the automated presidential election on May 9. The simulation was based on the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines’ historical data for the past four years. 

Power is crucial, not only during the voting, but also in the transmission and canvassing of votes.

However, the actual election week will be spared from alerts and possible rotational outages due to low demand for power during the period, DOE said. 

“Mababa ‘yung demand kasi walang pasok kasi boboto [‘yung mga tao]. Hindi concerning ‘yung picture,Fuentebella said. 

Re-electionist Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Energy, echoed the same sentiment as Fuentebella during the January episode of Power Podcast, though called the possibility of power interruptions before and after the elections an “energy crisis.”

Should Yellow Alerts indeed occur, the DOE has prepared contingency plans to support the needed demand, this includes the testing and commissioning of Aboitiz Power Corporation’s GNPower Dinginin coal-fired power plant 668MW Unit 2 scheduled this April and of 400MW worth of battery storage projects.

Earlier this week, think tank Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) said that the schedule for GNPower Dinginin Unit 2’s testing and commissioning “appears to not be feasible” considering that testing and commissioning for the 668MW Unit 1 took ten months. ICSC had also warned of power interruptions on election day itself.

Two of the major hydro power plants, CBK Power’s Kalayaan hydroelectric power plant in Laguna and the San Roque hydro plant in Pangasinan have both agreed to move their scheduled preventive maintenance to a later date, so that their available capacity can be used when needed, especially during the election period. 

GNPower Dinginin Unit 1 and Kalayaan were among the plants that went offline leading to last Saturday’s Yellow Alert, wherein 2,834MW was shaved from the Luzon Grid.

Fuentebella pointed out that Yellow Alerts do not result in rotational brownouts, which Energy Sec, Alfonso Cusi reiterated following the incident.

“A yellow alert is a way [for] the demand and the distribution to prepare for interruptible load programs, other contingencies,” Fuentebella said.