By Myrna M. Velasco
The Department of Energy (DOE) has effectively modified the policy on power plant outages – as it requires that such incidents in the electricity system shall be made public based on a new Circular issued by Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi.
Previously, the scheduled shutdowns or outages of power plants were kept secret from the general public, as industry players portended this would have implications on safety as well as security of these facilities as well as the personnel or consultants that the generation companies (GenCos) will be tapping to carry out the power plants’ maintenance activities.
Department Circular No. DC 2020-02-0004 specifically stated that following the approval of the Grid Operating and Maintenance Program (GOMP) for the country’s power system, the planned outage schedules of power plants shall be set for public posting in the websites of the DOE, Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and the market operator (MO) of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) which is the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines.
As prescribed, it shall be the WESM market operator that must “monitor the compliance of concerned electric power industry participants with the approved GOMP schedule and provide a report to the DOE.”
On the part of the ERC, it shall be providing regulatory support to the policy – and must “issue relevant rules and regulations necessary to implement it within 60 calendar days upon effectivity.”
The DOE Circular sets forth that “all generating companies shall submit three-year planned outage schedules for their power plants to the NGCP (National Grid Corporation of the Philippines),” and such must be done in accordance with the provisions of the Grid Operating Program and the Philippine Grid Code.
Following that, NGCP and the market operator shall then “device a mechanism to come up with an optimal generation and transmission planned outage schedule which shall be the basis of the GOMP.”
It was specifically prescribed though that the hydroelectric power facilities shall be allowed to pursue maintenance downtimes during the quarter when there is a peak in demand.
As further directed, NGCP shall submit to the energy department the GOMP “on the last day of October of each year, for review and approval.”
And the DOE, after its review of the resulting reserve profile, shall be able to “direct the necessary adjustments in the generation and transmission planned outage schedules.”
Taking off from that, the concerned generating companies shall then be informed accordingly if there would be any changes in the submitted GOMP and if there are warranted adjustments in their maintenance schedules.