Daily Guardian – Voters to DOE: Show plan for a no-brownout elections

“Unreliable electricity supply threatens the integrity and sanctity of the 2022 national elections.” — Kuryente.org

Less than five days before the May 9 elections, consumer welfare group, Kuryente.org is pressuring the Department of Energy (DOE) to present to Filipinos its concrete plan towards a no-brownout elections and ensuring stable electricity supply during the election period.

Kuryente.org is calling on the DOE, National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), National Electrification Administration (NEA), power distributors, electric cooperatives, and power generators to work together towards a clean, honest, and orderly elections by ensuring that there will be no brownouts.

An estimated 65.7 million Filipinos will cast their votes in what could be the most crucial elections in Philippine history. The country is in an economic slump with the pandemic plunging us deeper into poverty, unemployment, poor education standards, and inadequate healthcare.

“Incidents of unreliable electricity supply and power outages will undermine the integrity and sanctity of the election process. We live in a democracy, and we believe in the sanctity of the Filipino vote. We have the right and responsibility to elect leaders who will pull us upward towards economic recovery,” shares Nic Satur, Jr., National Coordinator of Kuryente.org.

Kuryente.org cites as its main concern the lack of energy reserves during the elections as seen by several Yellow Alerts raised by NGCP the past several weeks. The organization expressed its frustration over the “lack of action” especially in the area of  Ancillary Service Procurement Agreements (ASPA). ASPA serves as the grid reserves which will ensure grid stability and back-up during extreme situations. Kuryente.org shares:

“We are exasperated that after long congressional hearings and finger-pointing between DOE, ERC, and NGCP since last year, there have been no solid contracting for ancillary services by NGCP. With the expected thinning of supply from hydro power plants, what if one or two several majors plants go down during the elections? Can NGCP, DOE, and ERC assure that there is enough supply and enough reserve supply that will save the sanctity of our elections? It is also worth noting that China, through the State Grid of China, holds the switch over our national grid. This election is as important to their interest in the Philippines.”

In an open letter sent to stakeholders in the energy sector last March, Kuryente.org gave a list of probable solutions to help the government plan and mitigate the possibility of power shortages during the elections, these include the creation of a working group with consumer representation, the implementation of stricter maintenance protocols by gencos and electric cooperatives to avoid unplanned shutdowns, and NGCP’s compliance with ASPA and contracting 100% firm reserves via the competitive selection process (CSP), among others.

“For months now, we have been calling on the DOE and other energy stakeholders to address the issue of thin energy supply during the summer months, since we are anticipating the elections. Until now, there is no clear commitment and solid plan from the DOE, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), nor other groups. We only have less than 20 days until the elections,” he adds.

Today, consumers fear that recent reports of persistent thin energy supply triggering power outages during summer months—which includes the May 9 elections, may be a problem. The risk of having power interruptions when Filipinos are casting their votes through electronic voting machines and during data transmission for canvassing is something alarming according to Satur.

“Nationwide brownouts causing voting delays and questionable results, as well as political groups taking advantage of the issue are common scenarios in the Philippines. We need to address this now and protect our democracy through an orderly, clean, and honest elections. We are at a turning point in our history, let us write a better story for the next generation,” Satur shares.

Kuryente.Org is a consumer welfare organization that aims to pursue transparency and good governance in the energy industry sector with the ultimate objective of ensuring the rights of the people for a progressive energy sector and industry in the Philippines. To know more, visit kuryente.org.

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