Pilipino Mirror – Consumer group calls on NGCP to do its part to avert power crisis

A pro-consumer, non-governmental organization has called on the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) to do its part to prevent power outages from taking place in the Luzon region.

In an opinion piece for Rappler, Kuryente.org raised the possibility that power outages could take place during election day.

“We cannot risk having power interruptions when Filipinos are casting their votes through electronic voting machines and during data transmission for canvassing,” the organization wrote. “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,” it added.Kuryente.org outlined its recommendations on how NGCP can do its part to prevent power outages. These include procuring power supply reserves through a competitive selection process and ensuring the completion of transmission projects.

The organization also gave suggested policy moves to other energy sector players:

● For the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to approve all pending Certificates of Compliance for completed power plants
● For Department of Energy (DOE), NGCP, ERC, National Electrification Administration (NEA), and consumer groups to create a working group that will tackle impending power outages
● For gencos and electric cooperatives to maintain strict maintenance protocols to avoid unplanned shutdowns
● For private power distributors and electric cooperatives to ensure the stability of their respective networks

“If we all work together, we can protect our democracy and achieve 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,” Kuryente.org concluded.

Experts such as the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) have consistently warned that power outages could take place in the second quarter of this year. ICSC even raised the possibility of brownouts during election day.

“If these coal plants continue to experience unplanned shutdowns in the following weeks, the possibility of blackouts during the elections will be much greater as we predicted last February,” Jephraim Manansala, ICSC Chief Data Scientist, said in a statement to Business World. He was referring to the fact that 12 out of 23 power plants in Luzon have undergone planned outages for maintenance work after March 25 despite not being allowed under the approved schedule for outages for 2022-2024.

The DOE has introduced policies meant to prevent power outages. In October 2021, the agency released a circular mandating all energy sector players to present a framework on how it will procure Ancillary Services or power supply reserves.

However, NGCP refuses to follow with the circular, saying the DOE only has supervisory authority on energy projects initiated by the government. As such, the corporation failed to meet the April 29 deadline to present a framework on how it plans to procure power supply reserves.

The importance of power supply reserves has been stressed by energy sector players. When the Dinginin power plant encountered a technical issue in April, Meralco Vice President Lawrence Fernandez said if a power plant undergoes Automatic Load Dropping, it means “there is not enough fast-acting reserve to make up for the tripping of a large plant, hence, the recourse of the grid is to drop loads.”

Automatic Load Dropping happens when power supply is cut off to certain areas because of low supplies.

The issue with the Dinignin plant affected 450,000 Meralco consumers in Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Quezon, and Laguna.

When asked by DZBB anchor Joel Reyes Zobel on the DOE circular and what NGCP has been doing to prevent power outages from happening, spokesperson Cynthia Alabanza claimed NGCP only has a minor role on this matter.

“Actually, ang NGCP daanan lang iyan ng kuryente. Ang pamamahala ng supply at pagpasok ng mga bagong mamumuhunan ng mga power plant ay wala sa mga puder namin iyan,” she explained.

Alabanza also downplayed the benefit of reserves, saying the broader issue is the lack of power supply available to consumers.

“Meron din talagang kakulangan ng supply. Kung meron man hindi nadedeliver, hindi pa rin iyan sapat para tugunan iyong malaking kakulangan ng supply,” she said. 


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