Speaker Feliciano R. Belmonte, Jr. warned the power sector not to aggravate the impending electricity shortage this summer through unscheduled powerplant shutdowns.
“The power industry must not make matters worse by arbitrarily shutting down power plants whose maintenance can be rescheduled after the March to July critical period,” the speaker said.
“The power producers should behave responsibly at this time when all are sacrificing,” the speaker added.
The speaker also prodded the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) as well as the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) to work closely with one another, and step up their monitoring of independent power producers’ delivery of available capacity.
“Both DOE and ERC have a duty to carefully scrutinize these sudden claims of forced outages to ensure that these are really because of unexpected mechanical breakdowns. We should guard against any artificial shortage caused by the deliberate withholding of supply just to jack up prices,” Belmonte said.
The House of Representatives Resolution granting emergency powers to the President addresses the need to build up dispatchable power reserves through the Interruptible Load Program (ILP).
Through the ILP, large industrial and commercial Meralco customers would run their own generators, thereby freeing up electricity to be used by residential customers — small electricity users who do not have back-up generators. Government would then compensate these ILP participants.
Belmonte expressed hope that the Senate would not pass on to residential consumers the additional burden of shouldering the cost of the ILP program. The House and Senate Bicameral Conference Committee is expected to finalize the resolution by next week. Meanwhile, power interruptions have already been occurring in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.
“The DOE and the Grid Management Committee should already actively implement measures to prevent forced outages given that brownouts are now occurring nationwide,” said Belmonte.
“Where there is a red alert declared by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, there should be a sequence protocol to meet the shortage such as first disconnecting those with large generators but who have not volunteered to be participants of the ILP,” explained the speaker.
“Since it is the people’s money that would pay for the committed ILP power supply, DOE and ERC must ensure efficient utilization of these public funds,” the speaker cautioned.
“These agencies must device a monitoring system to verify whether a mall, factory or building actually deloads from using Meralco power. It should likewise create a system that validates the amount of electricity actually being generated by embedded generators of these ILP participants. We cannot have ILP participants billing the government or the people for power they are not actually generating,” said the speaker.
“We are sacrificing and bearing the burden of low power supply during the critical months of summer. And, these ILP participants are in fact going to be compensated for generating power for their own consumption. In exchange, we limit brownouts in residential areas. I am thus appealing to all — particularly those who are in the power sector — not to add to the burden of the nation and cooperate at becoming the solution,” the speaker said.