MANILA — The Department of Energy (DOE) on Thursday said it is highly probable the country's electricity reserves may fall within yellow or even red alert levels until July due to the scheduled preventive maintenance of two power plants.
Mario Marasigan, DOE Electric Power Industry Management Bureau director, said the maintenance activities at Ilijan and Pagbilao power plants were cleared by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).
Aside from that, power supply may also go on critical level due to outages of some other plants, and derating of the remaining ones.
"There are probable red alerts this week that we will encounter, starting this week, which is week 24... Mahaba-haba po yung ating potential yellow alert. At meron po tayong specific week na may potential red alert," Marasigan told the Senate energy committee.
"Pag sumobra sa 2 [power plants] yung naka-outage, definitely, may problema tayo sa supply," he said.
Marasigan said no power interruptions were experienced earlier this week because of lesser demand.
The situation starting next week, however, will be different.
"In the coming weeks, up to the 30th week, magkakasabay-sabay po yung preventive maintenance ng GNet unit 1, which is in extended outage, eto pong Sual unit 1 na mag-i-start ng preventive maintenance sa June 28, Ilijan block A that will start on June 24, and at the same time po, pati po Pagbilao na mag-i-start na rin ng kanilang preventive maintenance," Marasigan said.
"Having these numerous power plants conducting their preventive maintenance on the forthcoming weeks, meron tayong potential na magkaroon tayo ng hindi lang yellow alert, but red alert," he added.
The country has around 17,000 megawatts of available electricity, according to Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi. Of that, however, only 15,000 MW are considered "dependable" as against the country’s more than 11,000 MW of power demand.
The remaining 4,000 MW of power can still be reduced by unexpected outages and derating of other power plants, Cusi explained.
"Ima-minus pa sa dependable yung nasisira at nagme-maintain na mga planta... Based on the past experience, it is around 2,000 [MW]," Cusi said.
But even that remaining 2,000 MW is not safe, said Marasigan.
"Ang highest cumulative outaging, kasama derating, is around 2,600 MW. So technically, wala na hong natitirang kuryente... Kaya po kailangan natin ng additional capacities na nasa grid, especially at times na kailangan natin," he said.
The Luzon grid was placed on red alert in late May to early June due to insufficient power supply brought about by high demand.
Cusi said the issue can be solved if only the NGCP is really doing its job of contracting companies that will supply power reserves.
The DOE cannot contract those power reserve suppliers due to the absence of a contract which falls under the responsibility of NGCP.
HOW TO PREVENT BROWNOUTS
Energy Undersecretary Wimpy Fuentebella said these probable brownouts can still be prevented if power plants will reschedule their preventive maintenance operations.
The DOE is also looking at the additional electricity that can be supplied by Diningin power plant.
Nobet Racelis, vice president of GNPower Mariveles coal plant that operates Diningin plant, said their July operation will still be on a trial period and that full operation of the plant may happen in August.
An official of the Ilijan power plant said that their scheduled May 24 preventive maintenance has been moved to July.
Meanwhile, Sen. Risa Hontiveros called out the NGCP regarding its P369 million expenses on "representation and entertainment" in 2017 and 2018", and P79 million spent for Advertising in the same period.
NGCP spokesperson Cynthia Alabanza promised to check on the information and get back to Hontiveros.
PACQUIAO LECTURES DOE
Sen. Manny Pacquiao, who delivered a privilege speech last June regarding the long hours of power interruption experienced in Luzon, lectured the DOE for allegedly not taking its job seriously.
Pacquiao, who is at odds with Cusi over issues in PDP-Laban of which they are officers, told the Energy chief though that his criticisms against the DOE are not personal.
"To Sec. Cusi, nothing personal... Dahil naniniwala sa'yo ang Pangulo, ipakita mo naman... Problema sa atin dito, pride... Sana, maging aral sa ating lahat. Etong problem na 'to, hindi lang ngayon eh," Pacquiao said.
"Nakinig po ako. Makakaasa po kayo na the DOE will face the challenge wholeheartedly," Cusi replied.