By Myrna M. Velasco
This early, Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi has already issued instructions to power distribution utilities (DUs) to ensure that electricity supply during the summer months will not teeter into new round of breaking points, such as what happened in 2019.
“What we are prioritizing right now is how will they (DUs) address increased demand in the coming months,” the energy chief said.
He acknowledged that the most crucial will be summer period because that is when demand would peak due to increased electricity consumption precipitated mainly by hotter weather conditions.
Cusi said he already sent letters to DUs, primarily the Manila Electric Company (Meralco), to get them to commit that the grid won’t be wobbling into another hoop of yellow and red alert conditions during the peak demand months of summer.
“It’s not just Meralco, but all DUs,” he said, emphasizing that these power utilities “must already anticipate the need and contract for them.”
The energy chief added “they (DUs) said they’re already doing it. So just to put it on record, we required them to submit a plan to us because they are responsible in ensuring the demand.”
In the summer months of 2019, it has to be culled that it had been the simultaneous outages of the power plants – primarily forced shutdowns – that extremely strained supply in the Luzon grid.
There had been several investigations undertaken on the power plants’ forced outages, but when post-election noise already died down, none of the agencies that did the probes ever laid down what findings they have had on the power system upsets that happened from April to June this year.
The Department of Energy (DOE) forecasted wrongly when it assured that supply will be enough and sufficient, so when Luzon grid was being plunged into red alerts or rolling brownouts in several instances, the agency was placed on the spotlight why it had not fully anticipated the problems in power supply.
Until now, Cusi is not acknowledging culpabilities for DOE on those power supply restraints – with him just noting that the “yellow” and “red alert” conditions were just precautionary information on the lack of reserves in the power system.
While that may be partly true, it is the job of the energy department to ensure ample power supply – not just for the short duration but for the long term.
Until now, the biggest dilemma of the DOE is cornering new investments for committed capacities in the biggest power grid of Luzon, as there had been none yet under the Duterte administration…