Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian has called on the Department of Energy (DOE) to take the possibilities of Yellow and Red Alerts being raised over the Luzon Grid sandwiching the week of the presidential elections (see screenshot above) as an “energy crisis.”
“I-treat na natin ‘to na meron tayong energy crisis this coming May. Dapat ‘pag ganitong crisis, magkumahog tayo. May sense of urgency,” Gatchalian – chairman of the Senate Committee on Energy – said in a Power Podcast interview.
The lawmaker added that the potential brownouts during the summer are something they anticipate. Nonetheless, he did not hesitate to express disappointment on the recurring thinning of power supply.
“This is my sixth year as the Senate Committee on Energy chair. Nakakalungkot na every year na lang, nagkakaroon kami ng hearing in anticipation of these potential brownouts or Red Alerts tuwing summer,” said Gatchalian, who is seeking re-election in May.
Last week, the DOE said that there may be Red Alerts raised in the Luzon Grid, particularly during the weeks of May 16 and 23 and Yellow Alerts within the weeks of April 18 and 25 if power plants go on forced outages like in the past three years. The Red Alerts in particular may coincide with the canvassing of votes of the elections.
The DOE had also said the testing and commissioning of the GNPower Dinginin Coal Plant’s Unit 2 would contribute 400 megawatts (MW) to the Luzon Grid. It is also expecting the 150MW power plant of San Miguel Corporation in Mariveles, Bataan and the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines’ 350MW Leyte-Luzon interconnection to provide capacity to the country’s largest grid.
But for Gatchalian, these measures are not enough.
“Madalas naririnig sa presscon ng DOE: ‘Hopefully…’, ‘Sana…’, “Hindi tayo magkaka-brownout if…” Hindi ‘yun nagbibigay ng assurance sa atin, eh,” Gatchalian said. “Ang gusto natin marinig – walang brownout. Period.”
Gatchalian stressed that unplanned and forced outages should be avoided as early as now. In this regard, he asked the DOE to coordinate with the decision-makers of the power plants, and not just their line managers, to help prevent these outages.
He also asked power generation companies to identify the reasons for these forced outages and be prepared with spare parts. And if the power plants would still shut down, Gatchalian hopes for shorter downtime.
“Kung kaya iksiian ‘yun, mas hindi natin mararamdaman yung problema ng brownout,” he said.
While Gatchalian agreed that there are indeed threats to the country’s power supply in the summer months, he said that there would be sufficient power on election day itself – May 9.