With another round of ‘yellow alert’, caution raised on power rate spikes

By Myrna Velasco

With another batch of ‘yellow alert’ or deficient power reserve declaration this week, alarm bells are being raised that price spikes will be the next financial torment that these episodes of electricity supply tightening will have on Filipino consumers.

NGCP | Manila Bulletin NGCP | Manila Bulletin

On Tuesday, April 2, system operator National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) placed Luzon grid on yellow alert notices again at 10 to 11 in the morning; then 1 to 4 in the afternoon.

The transmission firm still notified relevant stakeholders on the forced outage of four plants as well as the de-rating or reduced capacity of some power generating units.

The same plants that were on unplanned outages in Monday (April 1) were carried through into Tuesday’s yellow alert condition – namely: unit 2 of the Masinloc plant; unit 1 of Pagbilao; unit 1 of South Luzon Thermal Energy Corporation (SLTEC) and unit 2 of the Malaya thermal facility.

De-rated generating assets were unit 2 of the Calaca coal-fired power plant and the second unit of the South Luzon Power Generation Corporation.

In a statement to the media, the Department of Energy (DOE) indicated that it is “closely coordinating with the industry players to ensure the delivery of electricity services to consumers,” – as to how efficiently that would be, the details were not given.

The agency added that it has been keeping track of the anticipated commercial commissioning of new power plants – both in Luzon and Visayas grids – including the Masinloc unit 3 facility and the unit 2 of the Therma Visayas Inc. plant in Cebu.

Given these recent developments, the DOE has been scored by advocacy group Laban Konsyumer Inc. (LKI) on its proclivity of concealing ‘yellow alert declarations’ or the state of power supply deficiency in the country’s electricity system.

LKI President President Victorio Dimagiba said “it would be best if the government could provide consumers a list of all the plants and an inventory of when these power plants schedule shutdown.”

He similarly called on the government to enforce “contingency plans in place for unscheduled outages due to technical problems and/or force majeure.”

Dimagiba opined that there seems to be a gap in the government’s action plan when it comes to providing contingencies when the grid is suddenly strained with supply lacks, which in turn results in electricity rate spikes.

“If we do not address this problem now, distribution utilities will be forced to buy higher priced power from the spot market,” he stressed, noting that the government must also focus attention on ensuring future capacity additions that will be reliable and will help in addressing the country’s problem of energy insecurity.