DOE counts on ‘extra’ power for May polls
MANILA — The Department of Energy (DOE) is optimistic there will be a “comfortable” amount of power supply for the May 9 national and local elections as well as “extra” power from power plants that are getting ready to go online.
Energy Secretary Zenaida Monsada said in a press briefing on Monday, that the 97MW Avion and 414 MW San Gabriel natural gas power plants have been exporting a combined 400 megawatts (MW) of power to the grid while undergoing testing and commissioning.
“On May 9, they will be commissioning only and not testing to ensure smooth power flow,” Monsada said. “That means their 400MW will be extra power on top of our power supply and reserves.”
Luzon and Visayas will have adequate power supply and will likely be spared from rotating brownouts, according to Monsada. Mindanao might still experience some power outages at the household level, but voting centers would have generating sets, she said. “We have made all arrangements to ensure that the voting centers, at least, would have enough power supply during and after elections, or at least until the initial results of counting are transmitted to Manila,” Monsada said.
Asked for details on the power supply-demand situation in the Philippines for the May 9 elections, Monsada said there would likely be enough power supply of about 11,000MW or more to serve about 9,700MW of demand.
Power demand is expected to be low since it will be a non-working holiday as most Filipinos will not be reporting for work and will likely be outside their homes as they cast their votes on election day.
There is also the so-called Interruptible Load Program (ILP) that can be tapped anytime to help ease power supply issues that may arise in Luzon and Visayas, according to Monsada. The scheme is only triggered when there is an impending or outright power deficit. Under the ILP, volunteer-participants such as factories and mall owners can be called to turn on their generator sets during emergencies so that they do not draw power from the grid and that would enable distribution utilities to serve households and other customers.
ILP was last triggered on April 15 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. to help ease demand on the grid while the Luzon grid was on red alert (power supply deficiency). In Meralco’s franchise area alone, the power deficiency was as follows: 30 megawatts (MW) at 1 p.m.; 200MW to 220MW at 2 p.m.; and 160MW at 3 p.m.
ILP was also tapped in previous years to address deficiencies in Luzon and Visayas. The ILP is just one of the power security measures established to address power supply issues in Luzon especially during the upcoming polls on May 9. Other measures include the rescheduling of power plant maintenance shutdowns to ensure all are up and running during the week of May 9. Government has also called on consumers to save power and to move activities such as ironing clothes to off-peak times such as the evening or very early morning.
Power demand in Luzon peaks during the hottest part of the day, from 10 a.m. to about 3 p.m. The energy chief earlier said the President did not need emergency powers to manage the supply-demand situation because preparations were already in place to ensure stable power supply.
“At this point, I would like to thank cooperatives, all stakeholders, generators, transmission and distribution utilities because they have done so much to prepare for the elections,” Monsada said.
Monsada has appealed to all power plant operators to complete all repair works a week before the election. SFM
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