Power supply in Luzon will get tighter in the next few days as a number of power plants go on scheduled shutdown for maintenance and warmer days trigger a surge in electricity demand, Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said on Thursday.
Contingency reserve at the Luzon grid, which normally stands at 600 megawatts, has dropped to as low as 250 megawatts, he said.
Petilla traced the drop to fewer plants remaining online and the increased use of air- conditioning as people try to beat the summer heat.
The energy secretary predicted power supply will be tight on Friday if the temperature shoots up.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) forecast temperatures for Friday to Sunday to be within the range of 30 degrees to 33 degrees Celsius.
The Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) announced on Thursday that it has secured additional power capacity of up to 270 megawatts under a supply deal just signed with PanAsia Energy Inc. The deal, if approved by the Energy Regulatory Commission, would ease the tight power situation especially in Luzon.
The utility company earlier secured 204 megawatts from three local power generators under separate Interim Power Supply Agreements (IPSA). The 474 megawatts will ensure ample supply when several plants go off the grid this month.
Plants that will be shut down for their scheduled maintenance are the GN Power 1, Santa Rita 1 and 4, Makban 1, Magat 1, Calaca, Pagbilao 2, Tiwi 2, Masinloc 2, Malaya 1, Limay 2, Angat mini hydro Unit 3, Makban 5 and Bacman 2.
Petilla said Unit 2 of the Angat plant will be on maintenance shutdown in May.
But Petilla said there is no need to panic since the Energy department and the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) are monitoring the situation.
He added that if the situation worsens, the Interruptible Load Program (ILP) will be implemented.
Under this program, private companies with generators will switch them on instead of getting their supply from distribution utilities (DUs).
The companies will be paid by the DUs based on the fuel and oil used in running their own generators.
Petilla expected the ILP to bring an additional 500MW into the grid.
He said the implementation of the program will depend on the NGCP and a DU, which in the case of the Luzon grid is the Meralco.
Meralco is scheduled to sign under the ILP program on April 11.
But Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles said the Department of Energy (DoE) should “fine-tune” the program before implementing it.
Shopping malls are considered large power consumers and were recommended to support the ILP by using their generators during peak hours.
“It’s a very wise, out-of-the-box scheme. But the ground rules must be made very clear especially because the public . . . will be subsidizing the power needs of these malls and large power consumers just to be able to ensure there will be no brownouts,” Nograles said.
Rep. Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna said it is “simply wrong for the [DOE] to force consumers to bear the cost of its lack of foresight and ill-planning skills.”
Another Bayan Rep., Neri Colmenares, said the ILP is a scheme unfavorable to consumers since “most of us can hardly make ends meet.”