THE Department of Energy (DOE) on Tuesday assured lawmakers there will be no power crisis in the country—this year at least—despite rotating brownouts that hit Luzon in late July and early this month.
Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said there will be enough supply to meet power demand in Luzon, during the organizational meeting of the Senate Committee on Energy.
Luzon has a “dependable” energy supply of around 13,100 megawatts (MW) while demand is around 9,700 MW, the Cabinet official said.
“So for this year we have enough supply. There was a shortage last Aug. 5, because 11 power plants went on outage,” Cusi explained.
He said it would irresponsible for him to declare a power crisis when DOE data showed that supply was adequate.
“The numbers that we have are okay. That is more than the supply, and it would be very irresponsible for me to say that [we will have crisis]. But to make sure that we won’t have a power crisis, we have to make sure that the plants are running and we have enough reserve,” he said.
Some areas in Luzon including parts of Metro Manila experienced three to four hours of power interruption late July and early August because of a power supply deficiency, following the simultaneous maintenance shutdown of several power plants.
The incident prompted Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto to ask for a Senate investigation.
The DOE is still investigating the simultaneous shutdowns, including the supposed collusion among power companies to jack up the price of electricity at the wholesale spot market.
Cusi told senators he was not discounting the possibly of collusion. “As part of due diligence, as part of the process, we are looking at all angles, because we are the authority to check on those,” the Energy chief added.
But it would be unfair to accuse power generation companies without any basis, he said.
Asked by Sen. Loren Legarda why power plants went on shutdowns simultaneously, Cusi explained that some plants postponed their scheduled maintenance to be able to supply power during the May 9 elections.
“As a policy DOE doesn’t want to postpone any maintenance and follow strictly the schedule. That’s what we will do moving forward,” he said.
But Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, chairman of the Senate energy committee, was not convinced that the election period was the reason for the simultaneous maintenance shutdowns, pointing out that everyone, including the power generation companies, knew that the country would have elections on May 9.
Gatchalian said he would call another committee hearing for the DOE to provide a more detailed briefing on the power situation in the country.