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No grid threat during polls – DoE

At least one unit of the SMC Mariveles Coal-Fired Power Plant is also expected to add 100-MW of power to the grid

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Despite falling on a summer month when demand is traditionally high, the Department of Energy (DoE) does not see any critical threat to the national grid on the week of the polling period this May.

But considering historical data and uncontrollable power plant outages, it said authorities may be forced to raise yellow and red alerts immediately the week after election day.

In a virtual press conference on Tuesday, Energy Director Mario Marasigan said the initial power supply assessment of the DoE showed no potential yellow alerts or red alerts for the entire year.

However, with the revised assessment and outlook, which took into consideration historical events in the last three years and potential forced outages, the DoE and the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) may have to raise at least two potential red alerts and four yellow alerts for the entire year, he said.

“We can show you that there are no potential yellow alerts or red alerts for the entire year. However, in consideration of historical events, forced or unscheduled plant outages happen. In our assessment, we used the average data in the last three years,” Marasigan said.

“We may raise a red alert after the elections, so that will not cover the day itself, particularly the week of May. We will not have a problem with that. But immediately the week after that, we may have a red and yellow alert. So, with that, we have potential two red alerts and four yellow alerts for the entire year,” he added.

 

New plants

To address the potential thinning of power supply, Marasigan said the grid can tap the GN Power Dinginin 2 power plant, which is expected to start its test and commissioning of at least 400 megawatts (MW) by April.

He said at least one unit of the SMC Mariveles Coal-Fired Power Plant is also expected to add 100-MW of power to the grid.

“Another solution is that we are seeing is the optimization of the Luzon-Visayas Interconnection, where up to 350 MW can be available. But of course, it would still depend on how the market develops,” Marasigan added.

As for the Visayas, Marasigan said yellow alerts may be raised due to 112-MW of potential forced outages but it can be averted by the availability of high-voltage, direct current electric power transmission system.

Meanwhile, Marasigan said Mindanao has the most reliable grid since it can fill in a potential 90 MW during forced outages.

The NGCP warned last week that there may be a thin supply this summer due to higher demand amid the new normal.

The grid operator said thin operating margins or the power above demand, which is used to manage and balance the grid, is forecasted in the Luzon grid from April to June due to an increase in demand during the summer, which includes the critical election period.

Thus, the NGCP has asked policymakers to immediately explore demand-side management strategies to mitigate the projected supply shortfall in the summer months that could affect the elections day.

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