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No power outage on Election Day

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There will be no power outages on 9 May 2022 where over 60 million Filipinos will cast their votes in the national and local elections, the Department of Energy (DoE) assured lawmakers during a recent congressional hearing.

In his presentation before the members of the House Committee on Energy on Friday, DoE Undersecretary Wimpy Fuentebella assured that there will be a sufficient power supply on Election Day.

“Based on the simulation at the NGCP (National Grid Corporation of the Philippines), reserves are sufficient for the entire (election) period and even after the election period,” Fuentebella told the panel.

“On the assumption that the peak demand projection for this year is expected to reach 12,387 megawatts (MW), GNPower Dinginin Unit 1 is available at around 700 MW as existing, while newly commissioned power plant GNPower Dinginin Unit 2 is expected to operate in July 2022,” he explained.

According to DoE, these units from GNPower Dinginin Ltd. Co. are supercritical coal-fired power plants located in Mariveles, Bataan and with a total capacity of around 1400 MW to cover the Luzon grid.

The official noted that the preventive maintenance of the powerplants is “considered and factored in” for the total capable capacity per week.

Power plants, Fuentebella disclosed, were also advised by DoE and NGCP to avoid scheduling their maintenance on the peak quarter which falls from April to June for the Luzon grid.

DoE Undersecretary Emmanuel Juaneza, likewise, assured the availability of sufficient electricity for the upcoming elections.

Nevertheless, he pointed out, incidents like unscheduled forced outages may also occur.

“Based on our projections for 2022, the power supply will not have issues, especially during the election period unless there will be forced outages which will be difficult to predict. Also, the GNPower Dinginin Unit 2 will be coming online as scheduled,” Juaneza said.

Fuentebella also revealed that forced outages were not considered in the simulation.

“The Ilijan natural gas steam power plant end of cooperation period is also expected by 5 June 2022,” he noted.

Despite this, NGCP spokesperson Cynthia Alabanza assured that there is no congestion of transmission lines at present in Luzon.

The agency earlier disclosed that the GNPower Dinginin Unit 2 was supposedly set to fully operate commercially in November 2021 if not for the pandemic.

Due to the international travel ban, the completion of the power plant construction got delayed and was pushed to July next year.

The hearing was participated by DoE and private entities to shed light on the country’s current power supply and demand situation and the cause of the recent rotational brownouts in Luzon.

House energy panel chairperson Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel Macapagal Arroyo led the hearing, where DoE chief Alfonso Cusi disclosed that the cause of the recent rotational brownouts in the major cities was the lack of ancillary services.

He underscored that ancillary services could have prevented the brownouts as these are the services that can support the power reliability and security of the Luzon grid.
“(Brownouts) happened because we did not have an ancillary reserve. If there would be fluctuation in the grid, ancillary reserve could have provided power supply,” Cusi said.

Moreover, he stressed that ancillary reserve with 2,000 MW capacity should be “firm.”

“So that we can build a new plant to meet that demand of ancillary services. If that happens, we can release the stranded powers of an additional 2,000 MW, then we will have security on our grid,” Cusi said.

“We will not have brownouts because of the supply,” he emphasized.

DoE, he added, is appealing for amendments to the Electric Power Industry Reform Act to empower the organization to implement regulations.

NGCP Head of Systems and Standards Division and Technical Services Department Erwill Bugaoisan, meanwhile, explained that rotational brownouts in some parts of Luzon were due to the manual load dropping that occurred on 31 May 2021 and 1 June 2021.

For the part of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), Agnes Devanadera — its chairperson — disclosed that among its efforts to address outages is to limit allowable outages in power supply agreements and require replacement power provisions in power supply agreements.

In her presentation, she added that ERC already coordinated with the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry to encourage more participants in the Interruptible Load Program.

The agency also streamlined the application process to avail the net metering and granted provisional authority to operate for all generation units that are critical for supply security despite incomplete requirements.

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