The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) is requiring generation companies (gencos) to submit a detailed report on causes of forced plant shutdowns within 24 hours.
The requirement is in addition to the regular reporting required of the gencos.
“The ERC has been closely monitoring the situation and the market results as we complete data from the gencos. We have noted the price surges during the past few days and have also identified the plants that have gone on unscheduled outages,” ERC Chairman Jose Vicente Salazar said in a statement.
“If this condition persists for some time, we will look into the bidding patterns of these power plants. Sanctions will also be imposed in case of the gencos’ non-compliance with our directive,” Salazar added.
The ERC is also requiring the gencos to inform it of actions undertaken and protocols observed to address contingencies.
Validation will be made by the ERC on justifications made by these entities, which may require physical inspection of the facilities.
Sustained high prices for a significant period may be sufficient ground to further look into the behavior of the players in the spot market, the regulator said.
“Should the sustained high prices prevail any longer, we will not focus only on the plants on outage but also on other firms, which may have taken advantage of the tight supply to drive up spot prices for their own benefit or those of their affiliates. We could conduct another investigation, if warranted,” Salazar said.
Last week, Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Alfonso Cusi requested the regulatory commission to look into recurring plant shutdowns.
Cusi, in a letter dated July 29, asked the ERC to determine whether there was anti-competitive behavior among power industry players.
He also instructed the DOE Power Bureau to conduct technical audits and plant inspections.
The Energy department has formed technical audit teams that will validate figures submitted by gencos and distribution utilities.
To mitigate the effects of forced shutdowns, Cusi outlined the following measures:
– energy conservation among consumers;
– more participation in the Interruptible Load Program in which big customers of distribution utilities and electric cooperatives run their generator sets in times of energy supply deficiency, to prevent power outages;
– importation of electricity from the Visayas by the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines, using the connection from Ormoc, Leyte to Naga, Camarines Sur; and
– the possibility of the Manila Electric Co. entering into contracts with diesel-powered plants to augment supply.