Pangilinan on how PH power sector can avoid ‘this crazy situation’

MVP on how PH power sector can avoid ‘this crazy situation’

MVP on how PH power sector can avoid ‘this crazy situation’

Manuel V. Pangilinan

MANILA, Philippines — Tycoon Manuel V. Pangilinan expressed his willingness to develop conventional power plants, including those running on coal, as the past few weeks saw electricity supply in Luzon and the Visayas grow thin due to the unavailability of many generation facilities.

Pangilinan, chair and chief executive of power distributor Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), said the best solution to address the power shortage in the future would be to build “more capable” power plants and inject “more capacities” into the system.


“What does the country need? What the country needs is conventional, dependable power plants so that we don’t get into this crazy situation when one particular large plant is down for its own reasons,” Pangilinan said during Meralco’s financial briefing on Monday.


Pangilinan said Meralco was open to constructing baseload power plants—or those that deliver uninterrupted power supply—if the government would allow it.

READ: JV Ejercito: PH needs to establish more power plants

What does PH need?

The Department of Energy recently said the moratorium on new coal-fired power plants that was imposed in 2020 remained in effect.

“Whether it be coal or [natural] gas, again, there’s got to be some guidance given to us as to where we should turn,” Pangilinan said.

“But if they do allow us, we’ll get into it, then we will get pilloried, then criticized for turning to coal and… what does the country need?” he added. “Well, coal will always be the cheapest form of power in terms of conventional [energy source]. Maybe renewable… arguably it will be the cheapest. There will always be a price you pay for the decision you take in this business, isn’t it?”

“If it’s coal, it’s the cheapest but it’s probably the least sustainable from that perspective. So gas is a bit of a compromise choice. It is not as emission-laden as coal but it is more expensive,” he added.


Pangilinan explained that traditional power plants are capable of meeting the country’s increasing demand since their capacities are larger than that of plants harnessing clean sources of energy.

“We have to turn to the conventional power plants, powered by either coal or gas. All of these renewables are small and the dependable capacities… the real output is much lower than what the main plate suggests,” he added.

Yellow alerts

The top Meralco executive aired his views as the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) again placed Luzon and the Visayas on yellow alert for prolonged hours on Monday because of a thin power supply.

NGCP said the yellow status in the Luzon grid was up from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. In the Visayas, it was up from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

A yellow alert is raised when the operating margin is insufficient but will not necessarily lead to power service interruptions.

In Luzon, the operating margin should be equivalent to 668 megawatts or the capacity of the largest power plant in the region.

With several power plants either offline or generating lower output, NGCP said a total of 1,443.3 MW was unavailable for the Luzon grid, where four power plants had been on forced outage since last year and four others between January and March this year.

A total of 13 power facilities are offline this month, while one other is running at limited capacity.

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In the Visayas, Unit 1 of the Mahanagdong geothermal plant in Leyte went on an unplanned outage while power shared through the Mindanao-Visayas interconnection project decreased as Unit 4 of a coal-fired power plant in Lanao Del Norte lowered its output.

TAGS: Manuel V. Pangilinan, MERALCO, NGCP

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