Congress should not rule out leasing power generation sets next year just yet to ensure stable energy reserves.
Rep. Michael Rivera of the 1st Consumers Alliance for Rural Energy party-list made the call a day after it was revealed at the Joint Congressional Power Commission that the Energy department has excluded the expected contribution of private companies and self-generating facilities under the Interruptible Load Program (ILP), as well as contingency reserves, in its count of available power supply.
The ILP is a scheme wherein malls and big companies with large standby generation capacity and self-generating facilities will not get power supply from power plants
and instead use their own generators.
Congress is mulling on setting a December 1 deadline for the enlistment of ILP participants in exchange for state compensation for those who will cooperate.
“If they participate, then well and good. But I am afraid that these ILPs won’t hold up. What if these malls and other self-generating facilities encounter troubles with their generators and suddenly they can’t contribute anymore? Whether it is supply or reserve, where do we get it?” Rivera said.
“There is still time to lease. What we need are conventional generators . . . the types that are placed near the transmission lines. A lot of them are available in the market,” Rivera added.
Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla has been prodding Congress to grant emergency powers to President Benigno Aquino 3rd by October, which would allow the government to lease additional power generating sets for P6 billion that would provide 600 megawatts (MW).
Petilla has been arguing that the 600 MW would cover the worst-case scenario of a shortfall of 647 MW in case of simultaneous forced outages of power plants during the summer months of 2015.
The October deadline set by Petilla, which he claimed was needed to lease the additional power generating sets in time for next summer, was ignored by Congress after the latter learned that the projected shortfall does not concern supply, but the reserves.
The ILP contribution for the electricity cooperatives will be sent to the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) which will then transmit it to electric cooperatives.
“Leasing or purchasing generators is still a step in the right direction. We need it in case of emergency,” Rivera, whose CARE group represents 56 electric cooperatives in Regions 1 to 5, added.
Patrick Aquino, legal counsel at the Department of Energy (DOE), told Congress last Wednesday that the Energy department has only recorded 377 MW of additional power supply thus far, excluding the 160 MW that the ILP participants are offering, and 631 MW of contingency reserve.
The 160 MW is supposed to be distributed to the public by the Manila Electric Co.
As such, by the Energy department’s count, the figure is still way below the 700 MW of reserve power that the DOE wants to raise to ensure stable power supply next summer.
Rep. Reynaldo Umali of Oriental Mindoro, chairman of the House Committee on Energy, expressed puzzlement as to why the Energy department has resorted to such exclusion.
“The numbers are moving. You [Energy department] are saying that we have at least 241 MW and that Meralco (which will distribute the ILP contribution) has 160 MW and yet, you tell us we only have 377 MW. How can that be? It is kind of unfair to the private sector if you are discounting their numbers,” Umali pointed out.
The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines also disagreed with the Energy department’s exclusion of contingency reserve by arguing that the 631 MW reserve will cover for a worst-case scenario of losing 647 MW due to forced power plant outages.
“You should resolve this among yourselves so we are not wasting time debating on the figures here,” Umali told the government agencies.