DOE sets audit of power plants

Published January 19, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Myrna M. Velasco

The Department of Energy (DOE) has earmarked a budget this year so it can finally advance on its long-delayed plan to pursue audit of the operating power plants and transmission facilities in the country.

In the department’s budget for 2020, documents showed that it will be allocating ₱19.562 million for the performance assessment audit of the power generation facilities as well as the transmission system of the restructured power sector.

Such activity, it was noted, shall be spearheaded by the DOE’s Electric Power Industry Management Bureau (EPIMB), which is overseeing not just the operations but also the flow of investments in the electric power industry.

The propounded performance audit of the power plants had been in the cards since 2016 – as the entry of Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi at the department’s helm then was somehow fouled up by power interruptions – especially in his initial months of July to August.

Nevertheless, the audit process never flourished and it just stopped with the department sorting out the parameters of the technical audit that was supposed to be undertaken.

Had the planned audit been carried out, it was opined that the technical strains in the power system that led to several instances of rolling brownouts in 2019 should have been avoided – or at least the reasons for the recurrent forced outages of the power generating facilities should have been made clearer to the consuming public.

On the view of the energy department, the analysis of data from the audit activity could guide it in policy formulation as well as in integrating more accurate data in the Power Development Plan and subsequently in the Philippine Energy Plan.

The department’s long initial step had been to hammer out and demarcate the power sector’s audit guidelines, so “duplications of such processes” among various agencies and relevant committees in the sector could be avoided.

The DOE indicated there should be a way to harmonize and methodically operationalize the audit and evaluation processes being carried by various agencies – such as the initiatives being undertaken also by the National Electrification Administration, Energy Regulatory Commission and even the Philippine Competition Commission.

In 2016, volunteers from the engineering discipline – those from the Institute of Integrated Electrical Engineers of the Philippines, Inc. (IIEE) and the Philippine Society of Mechanical Engineers (PSME) offered pro bono services to the DoE so they can help in the audit and evaluation of the operating efficiencies of the power facilities in the country. It is not known now if these organizations will still be part of the targeted audit this year.

While at the cusp, the DOE has just been repeatedly sounding off to the media that it will be monitoring the daily situation of the power system, primarily the “stresses” triggering yellow or red alert conditions in power grids.