Senate to probe Luzon power supply woes

Warren De Guzman, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 09 2021 04:20 PM

MANILA - Lawmakers are set to look into recent power outages due to the low supply in the Luzon grid to see if the National Grid Corporation and the country's energy regulators are accountable, Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian on Wednesday said.

The NCGP should ensure that there are power reserves while the energy department is the one crafting policies supposed to be enforced by the Energy Regulatory Board, said Gatchalian, who chairs the Senate Committee on Energy, in a press briefing.

"NGCP contracts the reserve... so that whenever there is something wrong with the generation plants, the reserves will kick in. The problem here is they are not contracting the right reserves, in fact in some islands in Visayas and Mindanao there is zero reserves," Gatchalian said.

“There seems to be inaction on the part of NGCP and also lack of enforcement on the part of the government. We will prove that tomorrow," he added.

The Senate Committee on Energy has set a hearing on Thursday to look into the recent outages.

"DOE is tasked to make sure we have a constant supply of energy. What happened last week was a failure of implementation and enforcement. We all know the problem, lack of supply. If you don't impose or implement policies, they are as good as toilet paper. Penalize actors and players who are not following the policies," he said.

Congress can even review NGCP's franchise in case of violations, said Pampanga 2nd District Rep. Mikee Arroyo, who chairs the House of Representatives Energy Committee.

“Congress could always revisit franchises if there are any violations, not just NGPC, even Meralco, lahat 'yan. They can be revisited. Kasi nga, Congress has oversight functions," Arroyo said.

Power demand has exceeded pre-pandemic levels which could further strain the power grid as the economy reopens, Meralco spokesperson Joe Zaldarriaga said.

"Residential demand has really increased, plus we are slowly opening the economy, tumataas ang gamit ng (usage has increased) commercial and industrial establishments," Zaldarriaga said.

"It goes without saying that the difference has already increased exponentially, in terms of the usage of electricity as we continue to roll out, our countrymen get vaccinated, we see this surging further," he added.
 
Rotational power outages have been implemented since early June as demand exceeds the supply from the Luzon power grid.

The high heat index, unscheduled maintenance work and low-yield in supply were among factors that contributed to supply issues, the DOE earlier said.

"Enforcement issues" on power players also contributed to the lack of power supply in Luzon. 

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