Senate to probe possible thinning of power supply during election period


The Senate is set to call for an inquiry on the plans and preparations of the Department of Energy (DOE) and other power industry stakeholders to assure the public that there would be no brownouts on election week.

This comes following the National Grid Corporation Philippines’ (NGCP) warning of a thin power supply scenario in the summer, including the election period.

At the same time, Senate energy committee chairman Sherwin Gatchalian called on the DOE to address the country’s current power supply situation before it gets worse. The senator made the remark after Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi questioned NGCP’s warning.

“The DOE sounds inutile by passing the blame. It’s their job to assure the public on the sufficiency of power supply,” he said in a statement.

Gatchalian added that the DOE has the power to supervise and assure that all electricity firms are in compliance with the policies and regulations to ensure uninterrupted power supply in the country. 

On Tuesday, the DOE said there is a possibility of the election period being sandwiched by Yellow and Red Alerts, specifically in Luzon, but also said it is not expecting power shortages if the Grid Operating and Maintenance Program is followed. Over 97,000 automated vote-counting machines are expected to be utilized in the polls on May 9.

Meanwhile, Gatchalian lauded the passage into law of Republic Act 11646 or the Microgrid Systems Act, which he authored in the Senate. RA 11646 aims to totally electrify the country by foregoing legal barriers, among others, to let power services reach unserved and underserved areas.

“Napapanahon ang pagsasabatas nito dahil ang mga kasuluksulukang lugar sa bansa na hindi naaabot ng mga linya ng kuryente ay maiilawan na gamit ang teknolohiyang microgrid,” Gatchalian said.

Under the new law, microgrid system providers (MGSPs) will now be allowed to operate in any area in the country without the need for a congressional franchise, unlike that of private distribution utilities (DUs) and electric cooperatives (ECs). MGSPs won’t also be required to obtain waivers from DUs and ECs.

Unserved areas are those with no electricity access, while underserved areas are those whose electricity supply is less than 24 hours daily.