DOE facing probe on election power outlook


While the Department of Energy (DOE) has assured sufficient power supply during the election period next year, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian thinks otherwise, prompting him to call for a probe into the department’s recent pronouncements.

Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Energy, called for the investigation, emphasizing that the DOE’s outlook does not take into consideration forced power plant outages and the Malampaya gas field’s declining supply.

It can be recalled that Yellow and Red Alerts were raised in Luzon in May and June. The elections will be held on May 9, 2022, while counting and canvassing is expected until the election period ends on June 8. Both dates fall within the second quarter, when demand for power peaks and many plants trip historically.

Malampaya’s reserves are also said to hit rock-bottom as early as next year. This is also crucial since the gas field supplies around 20% of the country’s electricity needs.

The senator also cited the rotational brownouts during the summer of 2019.

“It is crucial that programs are already in place, taking into account all eventualities to guarantee continuous supply of electricity during the 2022 automated elections. We must ensure the credibility and transparency in the conduct of elections as well as the delivery of fast and accurate results reflective of the genuine will of the people,” Gatchalian said in filing Senate Resolution 867.

“Power interruptions last summer happened despite earlier statements from the DOE that it was optimistic that the country will not encounter major challenges or any alerts that may result in insufficiency of supply’,” Gatchalian further pointed out.

The senator likewise noted reports on Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi, in a congressional hearing last month, being non-committal in ensuring a brownout-free national and local elections next year while some DOE officials were quoted saying that there will be “thinning of supply on election day and thereafter.”

Cusi was asked by the media for details on the election power outlook during a virtual briefing on Friday, but only gave a general statement.

“You just look at the [Philippine Energy Plan] and included in that is the demand and supply outlook, where we are not only looking at election time. What we stated there is there is enough power (during the May 2022 elections),” Cusi said.

Gatchalian then reminded the DOE of its mandate to ensure the reliability, quality, and security of electric power supply and to exercise supervision and control over all government activities relative to energy projects.