Energy dep’t not expecting Luzon power interruptions during 2022 election season

THE DEPARTMENT of Energy (DoE) said it does not expect power outages to disrupt the Luzon power grid during election season, citing projections that yellow alerts are unlikely during the period.

“We have sufficient supply for electricity for the election week. (NGCP data) show sufficient reserves which are above the yellow alert level, meaning no yellow alert(s). In cases of yellow alerts, no power interruptions (will) occur,” Undersecretary and Spokesperson Felix William B. Fuentebella said, referring to projections for Week 19 of 2022, which is election week.

When power reserves fall below ideal levels, the system operator issues a yellow alert, which is subsequently declared a red alert if the supply-demand balance worsens.

Speaking to reporters in a virtual briefing, the DoE official said he expects a “thinning of reserves” between May to June next year due to higher demand and lack of water supply for hydro power plants, but no yellow alerts will likely be placed on the Luzon grid during this period.

According to the NGCP’s (National Grid Corporation of the Philippines) base case scenario for 2022, available power is expected to be above the contingency and regulating minimums, making yellow and red alerts unlikely next year.

The scenario considers input from generators, and adopts a “no maintenance” assumption for power plants during the dry season, in compliance with DoE practice for making projections, NGCP Head of Systems and Standards Division and Technical Services Department Ermelindo R. Bugaoisan, Jr. said in a briefing Tuesday.

Mr. Fuentebella said that the initial projections have not yet taken into account other factors including forced outages.

“What we have to do is to further create scenarios and in creating the scenarios, (we will know) what our response should be,” he said.

“We are coordinating closely and monitoring the situation because we have to make sure that we maintain this or improve it. We (can) do that through proper coordination and preparation,” he added.

Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Energy, has called out the DoE for its “apparent indifference in arresting any possibility of rotational outages during the May 2022 elections.”

“It’s unacceptable that there’s even an iota or possibility of brownouts during the election period (and that) they would let this happen. It’s their job to address that situation… We see the problem of outages every summer so we must do something as early as now,” he said in a statement Tuesday.

He said the DoE should identify solutions and take steps to rule out the possibility of brownouts — rolling power outages to relieve pressure on various parts of the grid — during the upcoming elections.

According to Mr. Gatchalian, repair work on power plants must begin immediately to ensure the continuous supply of power.

The NGCP placed the Luzon grid on yellow and red alert at various times between May 31 and June 2, due to thinning reserves, increased demand and forced plant outages. — Angelica Y. Yang

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