With the 2022 national elections fast approaching, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) is keeping a close watch on the power supply situation in the country, as it remains wary of unplanned or emergency shutdowns that can cause drastic changes in the power supply situation in the grid.
Considering that Yellow Alerts were raised in January and in March when demand was relatively lower, the grid’s current excess levels are “too close for comfort,” NGCP spokesperson Atty. Cynthia Alabanza said in the latest episode of Power Podcast.
Energy officials earlier said there would be no Red or Yellow Alerts throughout the year If power generation companies would follow the 2022 Grid Operating and Maintenance Program (GOMP) and if there would be no forced shutdowns.
Furthermore, there may be Yellow Alerts beginning mid-May, when the counting and canvassing of votes may take place, if forced outages occur similar to the last three to four years.
“We’ve seen the dramatic effect it has on the power supply balance,” Alabanza said, referring to the Red Alerts declared in Luzon in May and June last year, wherein around 4,000 megawatts were instantly shaved off the grid due to simultaneous unplanned shutdowns of power plants.
Considering historical data where power demand is significantly lower during weekends and holidays, Alabanza had suggested to authorities to declare May 9 to 11 as a holiday to help with the supply-demand balance during the actual election date, and the transmission of votes that follow right after.
“If you’re looking at a Monday to Friday consumption, that’s when all the businesses are open – the factories, the offices, etc., you can [see the] huge difference between the weekday [and the] Sunday demand,” she explained
Pres. Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday declared election day, which falls on a Monday, a holiday. Though not officially holidays, election days are traditionally declared as such a few days prior.
“In fact, something they also should consider, maybe extending for Tuesday and Wednesday. There has to be a balancing act, because if you want to ensure the integrity of the elections then this is something you have to think of,” Alabanza added.
However, consumer group Kuryente.org believes that the grid firm’s holiday suggestion is a “knee-jerk move” to delay its compliance with the ancillary services requirements by the Department of Energy.
“NGCP had all the time to prepare for the elections by signing firm electricity reserve contracts and building enough infrastructure to allow entry to the grid of all available power plants. Now, they resort to asking the government for a holiday sacrifice to have enough power for our electricity-dependent automated elections,” Kuryente.org national coordinator Nic Satur, Jr. said in a statement.