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Officials probed over imminent Luzon energy crisis

Republika

Weeks after the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) announced an eight-day long series of rotational power outages in Luzon, officials from the energy sector bared concerning news on the Luzon grid’s status in a recent Senate energy committee hearing.


Department of Energy (DOE) Electric Power Industry Management Bureau director Mario Marasigan stated that should the current status of power generation for Luzon remain the same, energy supply will be at critical levels and more rotating blackouts are to be expected.


Capacity reserves will be particularly low as the month ends, as well as during the third and first weeks of July and August, respectively.


Marasigan explained that at present, the 345-megawatt (mW) Unit 1 generator of the GNPower Mariveles coal-fired power plant in Bataan and the 300-mW Unit 2 of the Sem-Calaca coal-fed complex in Batangas, remain out of commission due to technical problems.


This cuts at least 475-mW from Luzon’s daily generation, and will likely lead to the energy demand surpassing the available supply.


Other power plants that will not be available include the natural gas-fired Ilijan complex in Batangas, the 382-mW Unit 2 of the Pagbilao coal-fired power complex in Quezon province, and the 600-mW Unit 1 of GNPower’s Dinginin coal-fired power complex in Bataan, as it is still undergoing trial testing for commercial use.


Amidst these pressing issues however, energy executives seemed to be preoccupied with placing blame rather than addressing the looming crisis.


Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, who had given assurances of an ample energy supply earlier in the year, cited the NGCP’s continued failure to ensure that enough firm contracts, which compel power suppliers to deliver whenever the NGCP requires additional energy, were established.


Though prior to the hearing, NGCP president Anthony Almeda had announced that they would begin competitive bidding for firm contracts, but also maintained that this would not solve the power outage issues.


Almeda stated that electricity costs would skyrocket should the DOE policy on firm contracts continue, as it would not lead to an increased supply, but a shift in payment terms that would end up charging consumers for both used and unused energy.


Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Chair Agnes Devanadera shared Almeda’s sentiments on the matter.


The Senate hearing committee strongly urged the officials to form a technical working group amongst themselves and the power generation corporations in order to come up with actual solutions and proactive measures.


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