WESM forecasts spike in summer power demand

Published February 26, 2021, 1:49 PM

by Myrna M. Velasco

With cyclical temperature rise, the operator of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) is forecasting demand increases during the summer months, primarily around April to May this year.

Nevertheless, according to Engineer John Paul Grayda, manager for pricing validation and analysis of WESM’s Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines (IEMOP), the upswing in demand would still be below pre-pandemic level, given the lingering quarantine protocols still enforced by the government.

For the month of April, demand is projected to climb to 11,821 megawatts, which would be higher by 1,788MW compared to last year’s demand of 10,033MW on the same month.

But on the whole, the anticipated demand hike this April 2021 will still be leaner versus 12,918MW on comparative month in 2019 or the year before the pandemic when everything still operates on the ‘old normal’ paradigm.

By May, demand is expected hitting further upswing of 12,216MW versus last year’s 11,567MW for the same month. But that May demand projection is still negligible compared to 2019 at 13,316 on comparative month.

This February, demand had also been higher at 11,485MW compared to January’s 11,015MW, according to the spot market operator.

The distinctive demand spike during February 14 or Valentine’s Day celebration that had been constantly monitored by WESM in the past years did not happen this year; and that’s being attributed to the fact that most Filipinos are still staying at home because of the State-underpinned quarantine measures.

Pricing-wise, Grayda emphasized that there had been slight decline for February averaging to-date at P2.22 per kilowatt hour, as against the January settlement price of P2.61 per kWh.

If simulations will just be anchored on the Covid-19 quarantine protocols and the Grid Operating Program of system operator National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), there is also higher likelihood that prices could be sustained at the level of P2.00 per kWh level even during the summer months.

However, Grayda cautioned that the aggravating factor they have integrated in the supply-demand outlook would be probable forced outages in power plants. When that happens, he raised probabilities that spot market prices could climb to the level of P3.00 to P6.00 per kWh.

Despite manifesting increase in demand, the IEMOP executive stressed that supply will be sufficient; albeit the market operator cannot categorically state that power service interruptions will not happen especially when demand starts surging during the summer months.