DOE to impose measures to minimize power interruptions

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The Department of Energy (DOE) is working on additional measures to minimize the occurrences of the recent prolonged power interruptions that affected Panay Island.

“We wish to assure the public that the Government will consider and take all other steps necessary to ensure that the problems encountered are avoided in Panay and elsewhere in the country,” said Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla in a press conference on Friday.

The energy secretary also said that the department is heeding the call of legislative leaders, as well as Panay local officials, for an investigation, as the DOE would recommend to Congress to go over the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) franchise.

Lotilla explained that the review needed to address the separation and transfer of the system’s operation function from the transmission provider. 

Furthermore, it should grant the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) the authority to levy administrative penalties on the transmission service provider in case of violations. These penalties could amount to Php 2 million per day or 1% of the cost of the delayed project, as determined by the ERC-approved project cost.

Additionally, the NGCP’s particular tax privilege to pay only 3% of franchise tax in place of all other taxes collected by the government at all levels ought to be reviewed. 

The energy department also emphasized the importance of NGCP implementing the Transmission Development Plan (TDP). This plan detailed the expansion and modernization projects for the transmission system, aiming to ensure the consistent delivery of reliable electricity across the country.

“The whole-of-industry approach, including better energy resource planning that the NGCP was harping about in its media pronouncements, is, in fact, the TDP, and therefore, the NGCP as the transmission concessionaire has the responsibility to implement the TDP, which was developed in consultation with all industry stakeholders, both private and public,” Assistant Secretary Mario Marasigan said.

Meanwhile, the NGCP refuted the accusations of inaction,  stating that they are only able to present the state of supply and demand at the moment. The grid operating said it is working to deploy all available power as they are prohibited from getting involved in issues on the production of power. 

“We firmly refute allegations suggesting that NGCP failed in its obligation to stabilize the transmission system. We also take exception to the allegations that we were less than transparent in providing information to the public…Rather than using NGCP as a scapegoat, we urge policymakers to be objective in their search for facts and not coddle certain sectors.” the transmission concessionaire said.