A potential Yellow Alert from the absence of high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission link from Luzon is being anticipated the Visayas as a worst-case scenario in 2022, the election season, the Department of Energy (DoE) said yesterday.

A Yellow Alert indicates the thinning of power reserves in the grid. It is raised when reserves fall below the capacity of the largest generating unit.

"The availability of stable and reliable power supply is of grave importance - there should be no surprises this year, especially given our continuous battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, regions that have been affected by Typhoon 'Odette' are rebuilding themselves, and of course, because we are in an election year," Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, said.

The DoE and the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) convened on Friday and discussed the power demand and supply outlook for 2022, and preparation for the upcoming elections in May.

The DoE has emphasized the importance of the interconnection between the Luzon and Visayas grids.

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"The HVDC should always be available to provide support, as outages outside of the provided maintenance schedule may result to the thinning of reserves in Visayas or Luzon, since both grids support each other at peak times of the day," the DoE said.

As of January 11, the NGCP has restored 765 out of 917 damaged transmission poles, and 88 out of 95 transmission lines in all affected areas.

From January 10 and 11, there have been instances where the NGCP declared Yellow Alert status due to thinning power supply from plants being put on forced outages to plants with derated capacities.

"The goal of these meetings is to make sure that all power sector stakeholders are aligned for 2022," Cusi said.

During the meeting, NGCP presented its updated power outlook for Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao.

It indicated that for the Luzon and Mindanao grids, there are no foreseen Yellow Alerts in 2022, with the NGCP having proposed for some amendments in the schedule of generator maintenance adjustments.

The DoE has come up the Grid Operating and Maintenance Program (GOMP) policy, in which generation companies (gencos) are required to submit their respective proposed maintenance schedules well in advance, to enable the DoE and energy stakeholders to come up with accurate power supply and demand projections for the coming year.

A sound forward planning would allow the energy family to identify potential issues and formulate appropriate contingency measures to prevent potential power interruptions, the DOE said.

Under Section 3 of Department Circular 2020-02-0004, gencos are required to submit their three-year planned outage schedules to the NGCP, which serves as a basis for the crafting of the GOMP.

The NGCP should submit the GOMP on the "last day of October of each year, for review and approval" of the DoE, which then "directs the necessary adjustments in the generation and transmission planned outage schedules."

The circular also clearly states that only the hydroelectric power plants shall be allowed to conduct power plant maintenance during the peak quarter.

Both the DoE and the NGCP agreed that gencos should strictly adhere to their maintenance schedule submissions in the recently approved GOMP 2022-2024.