Power outages seen not due to lack of capacity but maintenance issues

Warren de Guzman, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 14 2021 06:03 PM

MANILA - The recent power outages were not due to the lack of power plants or inadequate generating capacity but due to maintenance issues, the operator of the country's electricity market said on Monday. 

The Independent Electricity Market Operator (IEMOP) which runs the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), said the Philippines has enough power generation capacity.

IEMOP chief operating officer Robinsons Descanzo said Luzon power plants have a combined capacity of over 17,000 megawatts (MW) per day, while the load swings between 10,000 to 11,000 MW. 

Descanzo said that power plant outages can subtract around 2,000 MW from the total capacity.

"So meron ka pa rin na almost 15,000 plus capacity to serve your requirement."

Descanzo said the reduction of a power plant’s capacity, or derating, due to environmental, operational or reliability concerns, is the main problem. He said power generation firms need to maintain the reliability and efficiency of their power plants. 

One way of avoiding the risks of brownouts during peak demand season is by setting up a reserves and forwards energy market.

“If we open up the reserves market, this now allows some other [power] generators to consider [the] reserves market as an incentive to come into investing sa power," said Isidro Cacho, head of IEMOP’s Corporate Strategy and Communications Department.

Last June 1, the country's power grid operator implemented rotating power outages in parts of Luzon as the available capacity dropped to 11,480 MW while the peak demand was estimated to reach 11,593 MW.

The Department of Energy partly blamed the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, the country's power grid operator, for the brownouts saying the company did not contract enough backup power.

The NGCP however said power rates would go up if it followed the DOE's order to contract power on a take or pay basis.