power and water

Cusi asks NGCP for plans to prevent blackouts during 2022 elections

Aika Rey
Cusi asks NGCP for plans to prevent blackouts during 2022 elections

MOCK POLLS. Registered voters of Taguig City participate in the mock elections for the 2022 polls, supervised by the Commission on Elections at the Tenement Elementary School on December 29, 2021.


'So, what is NGCP doing about it?' asks Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, referring to thin power supply expected during the polls

MANILA, Philippines – Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi is putting more pressure on the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), as the system operator announced a thin power supply outlook for the “summer” months.

The NGCP warned of thin power supply in “summer” or during the hot dry season, as the Luzon grid demand is expected to peak at 12,387 megawatts (MW) in the last week of May based on the DOE’s forecast.

The peak demand forecast is a 747-MW increase from the 11,460-MW peak hit in 2021, specifically on May 28. Days later, on May 31, 2021, the Luzon grid was placed under red alert and rotational blackouts were implemented in several areas. The power interruptions went on for days.

“So, what is NGCP doing about it?” said Cusi in a statement on Thursday, January 20.

Cusi said increased demand and reduced supply during hotter months happen every year and the NGCP “is very much aware of the cycle.”

In August 2021, the DOE said it was expecting thin power reserves during the week of the 2022 elections, but gave assurances that blackouts are unlikely.

“The NGCP is expected to perform their responsibilities that contribute to the adequacy of supply, and more so this year as we will be holding national elections this summer,” said Cusi on Thursday.

“The DOE is very interested to hear from them about the steps they have taken, or are taking, to address the situation, particularly in preventing the occurrence of a power interruption,” the energy chief added.

Cusi asked if the NGCP has been able to “thoroughly plan” the Grid Operating Maintenance Program (GOMP) and if reserves are contracted from a separate pool of capacity.

The NGCP said the DOE already approved the GOMP as of January 10. But it added that some generating units have extended their maintenance shutdowns even in January, while some have derated, decreasing their output.

“On paper, there appears to be sufficient supply to meet demand; but the plan on paper, the GOMP, is not always followed. It is when there are unscheduled shutdowns and derations, and extensions of maintenance duration, that grid operations may be disrupted enough to warrant the issuance of a grid alert status,” the NGCP said in a statement.

As the NGCP recalled, unplanned shutdowns were the main reason why rotational blackouts had to be implemented in 2021.

During the hot dry season, power plants are not allowed to go on maintenance, except for hydroelectric plants. But some have noted that power plants in the Philippines are already old, and maintenance shutdowns for some generating units had to be postponed because of the pandemic.

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EXPLAINER: Why do rotational blackouts happen?

EXPLAINER: Why do rotational blackouts happen?

In the past, Cusi and the NGCP have clashed over the alleged refusal of the system operator to contract firm power reserves called ancillary services (AS), which should be tapped when there is insufficient supply.

Cusi believes that contracting sufficient AS is a remedy for blackouts, but the NGCP’s stance is that new plants are needed to increase supply, not AS. – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.