Luzon Red, Yellow Alerts may sandwich elections


The first two weeks of May, which include the presidential elections, may be sandwiched by Yellow and Red alerts, particularly in Luzon, if power plants go on forced outages, as with the past few years, according to the Department of Energy (DOE).

In a media briefing on Tuesday, Energy officials said red alerts could be raised in the Luzon Grid – the largest of the country’s three island power networks – during the weeks of May 16 and 23. Canvassing of votes is expected to be done during the said period. The DOE’s projection was based on historical data of unplanned power plant outages for the past three years.

Hindi mako-cover yung election period, particularly the week covering May 9, but immediately after that, pwede tayo magkaroon ng Red Alert,” said Mario Marasigan, Director of DOE’s Electric Power Industry Management Bureau.

A yellow alert could also be raised in Luzon on the weeks of April 18 and 25, based on DOE’s outlook factoring in forced outages. The said period covers two of the final three weeks of the campaign period.

DOE’s outlook factored in an average forced outage of 536 megawatts, based on data for the past three years. 

Overall, the department is looking at four yellow alerts and two red alerts throughout the year given the average unplanned shutdowns.

Yellow alerts were declared in Luzon on January 10 and 11 this year. Before that, Red Alerts were raised from May 31-June 2 last year.

However, if there would be no forced outages and if power generation companies would follow the scheduled maintenance programs under the 2022 Grid Operating and Maintenance Program (GOMP) approved by the DOE, there would be no alerts throughout the year. 

“Under what is approved [in the] GOMP, we can show you that there is no potential red alert or yellow alert for the entire year,” Marasigan said, also factoring the operations of the GNPower Dinginin coal plant’s Unit 2, which would undergo testing and commissioning by the first week of May.

In the event that forced outages would happen, the DOE emphasized that it has identified solutions to the matter. 

Even if the operations of Dinginin Unit 2 would be delayed, officials said that they are still expecting around 400MW from its commissioning and testing. They are also expecting 150MW from San Miguel Corporation’s Mariveles power plant. 

“Also another solution is we are seeing if we can optimize the Luzon-Visayas interconnection, up to 350MW would still be available,” Marasigan added. 

Even with the possibility of Red Alerts after the elections, the DOE said that blackouts won’t necessarily happen during the counting of votes. In case of isolated incidents, Energy Usec. Felix William Fuentabella noted that it is important to identify the counting centers to prevent brownouts in said facilities. 

“That is the emphasis that all these facilities, these counting centers, will have triple backup just like what we have in vaccine storage facilities. We have to organize ourselves and position ourselves kung saan puwedeng magkaroon ng aberya at puwedeng makatugon kaagad,” he said.

Earlier, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) warned of thinning power supply in the summer season, emphasizing that the GOMP is not always followed and that unscheduled outages and derating of plants often happen. However, the Energy Regulatory Commission assured the public that there would be no brownouts during the election period, saying that the NGCP has ancillary services contracts up for their approval.