Major energy officials, led by the Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla himself, has come up with guns blazing to make the country’s power transmission operator liable for its failure to use the state-owned 600-megawatt Malaya thermal power plant during the Malampaya gas field shutdown in November last year.
This issue was raised during a Senate committee hearing on Thursday on the recent power rate hike, where it was revealed that the Malaya plant’s output should have been used during the Malampaya shutdown.
Had the power plant’s output been utilized, it could have provided a certain amount of power supply to the Luzon grid during the period where several plants in the Malampaya complex underwent planned and unscheduled shutdown. Eventually, the Malaya plant’s output would have helped prevent the unprecedented power rate hike by the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco).
In the Senate hearing, Sen. Serge Osmeña 3rd asked energy officials, specifically those who are heading the Department of Energy (DOE), Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC), Power Sector and Asset Liabilities Management Corp. (Psalm) and NGCP, to explain why the Malaya plant hasn’t been considered an option to spare consumers from Meralco’s power rate hike.
Earlier, Emmanuel Ledesma, Psalm president and chief executive officer, said offering the output of the Malaya plant to the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) during the Malampaya shutdown would lead to further losses.
But in the senate hearing, he cited a new reason, specifying that the reason they didn’t run the Malaya plant during the shutdown is because they were not informed formally by NGCP about the tight power supply.
“I concluded the supply was sufficient because NGCP didn’t mention anything to us [regarding tightness in supply],” he added.
He even cited a “weekly report” that Psalm got that showed there was no insufficiency in supply during the period where the Malampaya-fed plants were not operating.
“The NGCP sees the entire picture when it comes to supply and demand,” Petilla said.
“It [Malaya plant] only comes into play when the SO [system operator]calls,” he added. NGCP is the country’s transmission system operator that is controlled by Henry Sy.
NGCP saw no shortage
However, NGCP reiterated that there was no insufficiency in supply during the shutdown.
Ronald Dylan Concepcion, a representative from NGCP who appeared during the Senate hearing, said that the company made sure that should there be a supply shortage in the span of time where major plants in the Malampaya complex were under rehabilitation, they would have issued a notice about it.
Another NGCP official also noted that during the shutdown, the company only raised a “yellow alert,” specifically on November 15, 2013, where contingency reserves is less than what is required.
Asked whether PEMC could make interventions, Melinda Ocampo, PEMC president, only said that generators who did not offer their capacity during situations like the Malampaya shutdown should be subject to investigation.
Psalm is set to talk with the DOE regarding what could be done on the Malaya plant.
“We are issuing a directive for Malaya plant to be a must-run plant,” Petilla said.
Ledesma told reporters after the hearing that privatizing the Malaya plant will also be considered.