DOE mulls ‘state of emergency’ over dwindling power reserves

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The Department of Energy (DOE) is seriously studying recommending to President Benigno Aquino 3rd to declare a state of emergency to solve the country’s energy problem.

Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said the agency is open to the idea of calling on Aquino to invoke Section 71 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira).

Under such provision, Petilla explained, Congress may give the President power to establish additional generating capacity in case there is imminent shortage of supply of electricity.

“We are studying right now if there is a need to invoke Section 71. What I’m saying is we are not close to that idea,” he told reporters on Monday.


Petilla, however, said the move to declare a state of emergency will be considered by the government as a “last recourse” only, not as an immediate reaction to solve the energy problem.

He added that the DOE is studying the power outlook and the private sector’s capability to mitigate the shortfall in power supply.

In case the private sector has no capacity to give additional power supply, Petilla said, that is the only time that the government should come in and build more plants.

“What I’m saying is, the government can come in and build plants not on the basis of the two-day maintenance but it should be [based on]the entire outlook including in 2016 and 2017,” he added.

Petilla was referring to the maintenance of Ilijan power plant in Batangas last weekend that caused power outages in Luzon, including Metro Manila.

“We have to make sure that additional power plants should solve the bigger problem,” he said.

The DOE chief stressed that in order to solve the power problem, more plants should be constructed.

“The only solution to the problem is more plants. Power shortage can be solved only until we have enough plants coming in and the demands are coming down,” he said.

Petilla, meanwhile, disclosed that the power reserve for the entire week in Luzon is low.

“Even if the operations of Pagbilao and GN power plants[are back]to normal, we are still on yellow alert,” he said.

The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) defines a “yellow alert” as a system condition where the total reserve is less than the capacity of the largest plant online.

As of 6 a.m. Tuesday, the NGCP said the Luzon grid has 676 megawatts while the Visayas has only 70 megawatts of power reserves.

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