NGCP warns of summer power shortage in Luzon despite lower demand

NGCP substation

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) has warned of a power supply shortage in Luzon this summer despite lower demand due to quarantine restrictions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We continue to urge the authorities to look into this impending power situation in Luzon during this summer season. As the transmission service provider, NGCP can only guarantee the dispatch of all and any available grid resources. It cannot intervene on matters concerning power generation,” the grid operator said in a statement.

Thin operating margin  is forecasted in the Luzon Grid from April to August 2021 due to multiple power plants on extended outage, thereby providing limited power supply. Technical limitations brought about by the pandemic such as delay in delivery of materials or spare parts, temporary work stoppage, and travel restrictions were stated as some of the reasons for the plants’ extended outages. For instance, Aboitiz Power Corporation wanted to fully operate its GNPower Dinginin coal plant by the second quarter of this year, but had to move its timetable due to the said restrictions.

NGCP maintains an annual Grid Operating and Maintenance Program (GOMP) which schedules the preventive maintenance of power plants, taking into consideration the needed supply vis-a-vis projected demand.

Back in August 2020, the Department of Energy (DOE) forecasted a total peak demand of 11,841 megawatts (MW) for Luzon to occur in May 2021, a slight increase from the actual 2020 peak load of 11,103MW which occurred last March 9, 2020.

Based on data from the DOE, Luzon accounted for 11,344MW or 72.8% of the country’s total power demand in 2019, which the NGCP recorded at 15,581MW.

The Luzon Grid needs around four precent of the peak demand, or around 475MW in regulating power to stabilize the grid. It also needs to maintain power equivalent to the largest plant online of about 647MW as contingency power to support the grid in case of an emergency power plant shutdown. Once the net operating margin falls below these numbers, NGCP will issue grid alert notices. To certain conditions, this would mean implementation of manual load dropping or rotating power interruptions to protect the integrity of the power grid.

NGCP hopes that the quarantine restrictions would not lead to further plant outages to avert the projected shortage, especially in Metro Manila, which is the main load center of the Luzon Grid.

In line with this, the grid operator also appeals to the public to use electricity efficiently and help prevent any occurrence of power interruptions due to the lean supply especially in the summer months.