ERC confirms tight power supply in coming months, DOE ready with contingencies

7, 000MW needed to supply power until 2030 – DOE

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has confirmed a power supply shortage of around 1,800 MW to 1,900 MW since February

This according to ERC chairman and chief executive officer Agnes VST Devanadera, noting that the numbers came from the DOE itself.

Given the situation, Devanadera emphasized the importance of new power generation capacity, which the Luzon grid lacks.

“We cannot build plants. The only thing left for us is, how we dealt with the Supreme Court decision on the 153 PSAs [power supply agreements] that were told to undergo CSP [Competitive Selection Process]—as matter of policy, we told them, don’t stop your supply while you’re doing your CSP,” Devanadera was quoted in a report.

“Because if supply stops, as an effect of the Supreme Court decision, that’s 1,000 plus megawatts again on top of the real shortage,” Devanadera added.

DOE assistant secretary Redentor Delola explained that the numbers on power supply shortage refer to the least loss of load expectation or LOLE or number of days that the power generation will be insufficient to meet the demand “with adverse conditions present.”

“We need that much if we aim for the least LOLE of one day,” commented Delola.

The DOE, however, claimed that there is stable power supply and there is no need to worry as the agency has “holistic solutions and contingency measures”  to prevent power outages.

Meanwhile, industry stakeholders took a different position with the operator of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) declaring on January 30 a tight power supply for the Luzon grid which will entail higher spot market prices.

“With the expected increase in demand, tight supply conditions and price spikes are likely to happen, particularly during the summer period. This underscores the need for new generation capacities to meet increasing demand and to help prevent recurrence of high market clearing prices,” said Robinson Descanzo, chief operating officer of Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines Inc. (Iemop).

Luzon, he said, would need an additional 500 MW. Based on the DOE’s 2016-2040 Power Development Plan Demand Growth Rate, Iemop said power demand in Luzon is projected to increase by 4.9 percent.

“But we don’t have additional power plants coming in before summer. They will come in only after summer,” Descanzo said.

The National Electrification Administration (NEA) also warned of rotational brownouts that would last at least an hour.

As such, NEA called on electric cooperatives (ECs) to prepare contingency measures like the demand-side management programs and maximizing embedded power plants to reduce, if not eliminate, rotating brownouts during peak hours.

The warning was based on DOE’s forecasted red alerts that may be issued from April 18 to 21 and May 20 to 22.

Grid operator National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) also issued the same warning and called government agencies to address the issue of power supply.

“With the increase in power demand, lack of new base-load plants, power plant decommissioning and longer unplanned maintenance shutdowns of aging plants, as well as the unpredictable weather, NGCP is urging the authorities to focus efforts on stemming what seems to be an impending power shortage in Luzon, especially during the summer season,” it said. 

“We cannot provide, or implement, solutions to a generation deficiency-induced shortage,” NGCP added.

However, the DOE says they have been actively working to ensure adequate supply all year round.

Included in the department’s plans to help ease the demand on the grid is the interruptible load program (ILP), which The Manila Electric Company (Meralco) is ready to activate.

“In case there are forced outages by the power generators, Meralco has measures in place to ensure continued, reliable service to our customers. It continues to reach out to partner customers to implement the ILP in order to augment the power supply needed in households in Luzon during times of challenged supply,” said Meralco spokesman Joe Zaldarriaga.

Aside from ILP, the energy department urges consumers to practice energy efficiency and conservation measures, adding to that the net metering policy wherein consumers can sell excess generated electricity directly to their distribution utility.