ERC widens scope of ILP activation during power ‘red alerts’

By Myrna M. Velasco

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has broadened the scope on when the interruptible load program (ILP) can be activated by a servicing distribution utility (DU), so power interruptions or rotating brownouts could be avoided in the country’s electricity grids.

Agnes T. Devanadera Agnes T. Devanadera

Aside from calling on the ILP-qualified entities to switch on their own generating facilities only upon the declaration of ‘red alert’ in the power grid, the ERC had expanded the coverage so it could also cover ‘emergency’ circumstances.

Under the amended rules, the ILP entities “may also be activated during other grid conditions, like emergency state,” according to the industry regulator. That, it said, had been anchored on the prescription of the Philippine Grid Code.

ERC Chairperson Agnes T. Devanadera said the Commission “saw the urgency to clarify the amended ILP rules that we issued,” primarily in reference to the stipulation on “other minimum threshold” which may also trigger the need to call on the ILP participants to run their facilities.

The ERC chief emphasized that based on the letter and wisdom of the crafted rules, that shall be in reference to “emergency state of the grid” as defined under the Grid Code.

Prior to the fortified rules, galvanizing the ILP entities to operations would just often happen following the declaration of ‘red alert’ by system operator National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) – which entails zero reserve and insufficiency of power supply.

The industry regulator nevertheless indicated that an ‘emergency state’ in the power grid – even before it gets plagued with red alert, may warrant ILP activation so on-grid demand can be immediately eased.

In the revised rules, the ERC clarified that the ILP can already be set for activation “even before a red alert status is declared” by the system operator.
Devanadera expounded that relative to the clarification of the ILP edict, “the NGCP is hereby directed to call on the DU-ILP Administrators to implement their respective ILPs, particularly during situations of red alert and emergency state.”

The ILP program has been enforced by the ERC as early as 2010 –when Luzon grid was similarly being pummeled with power service interruptions. The participants in the ILP program are often called by the distribution utilities like Meralco to switch on their facilities when there is extreme deficiency in reserve or supply in the system.

As previously laid down in the rules, the ILPs were being compensated when they will be called to utilize their own generating facilities for the operation of their businesses or establishments.

Through the program, customers seal an agreement with their servicing DUs to voluntarily de-load or disconnect from the power grid for a limited period when power supply is extremely scant.