DOE admits power supply shortage


The Department of Energy (DOE) has admitted that the Luzon Grid does not have the enough capacity to meet the peak electricity demand, especially with the recurring dilemma of forced power plant outages. 

During the Senate Committee on Energy’s hearing on Thursday, DOE Electric Power Industry Management Bureau Director Mario Marasigan said that additional plants are needed given the combined loss of capacity in the system triggered by the unplanned outages and aggravated by deratings.

Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi pointed out that the Luzon Grid has installed capacity of 17,000 megawatts (MW) and dependable capacity of 15,000MW, while the 2021 peak forecast is 11,841MW. 

Based on the figures, Cusi noted that roughly 4,000MW was shaved from the grid leading to the rotating brownouts two weeks ago.

However, Sen. Nancy Binay was able to fish out details from the DOE that led to the conclusion of the grid’s very thin supply margin and that happens during the peak demand months from April to June.

Meanwhile, Atty. Richard Nethercott, president of the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines, which operates the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market, explained that the required ancillary services or reserves on this year’s peak demand forecast had been calculated at 1,789MW.

While there is a leverage for excess capacity of 3,636MW, that is usually shaved off due to the technical glitches which trigger power plants to break points or on a limited scale of capacity generation. 

Nethercott said that deratings are typically brought by a facility’s operation and natural forces, emphasizing that natural ones or reduced capacity of power plants would appear due to cyclical weather patterns, especially for hydro and wind farm facilities during summer months. Operational ones, meanwhile, could be caused by the aging state of facilities, fuel restrictions, and other technical setbacks. 

He also supported views that if more than two major power plants stop working properly, there would already be thinning of average available supply which then could result in a Red Alert. 

The DOE warned of more Red and Yellow Alerts in Luzon until the end of July.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy, has been voicing out frustrations on the lack of the DOE’s definitive plans relative to the huge capacity that will be taken out from the system, which could result in another distressing power outage.

He then asked Energy officials to submit a firm proposal on how to avert probable brownouts in the coming weeks and for them to reconvene its task force to sort out strategies and measures related to any concerns in the power sector.