NGCP warns of thin summer power supply

Published April 16, 2021, 5:00 PM

by Myrna M. Velasco

Seeks gov’t intervention

System operator National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) is seeking intervention — primarily from the government as well as relevant stakeholders — so the worrying thinning supply in this year’s summer months until August will not result in distressing condition of power interruptions or brownouts.

“We continue to urge the authorities to look into this impending power situation in Luzon during this summer season,” NGCP stated, while emphasizing that as the operator of the country’s power transmission system, the company “can only guarantee the dispatch of all and any available grid resources.”

NGCP set on record that “it cannot intervene on matters concerning power generation.”

Instead, such ‘intervention’ would be a matter better left under the command and authority of the Department of Energy (DOE), the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and all other relevant agencies to act on; and on collaboration with the concerned stakeholders, such as the generation companies.

The transmission firm noted that despite the lower power demand because of the tighter movement restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the overall condition of the power system is still teetering on a wobbly state because of the simultaneous outages of power plants.

NGCP specified that “thin operating margin is forecasted in the Luzon grid from April to August 2021 due to multiple power plants on extended outage, thereby providing limited power supply.”
It further stressed that “technical limitations brought about by the pandemic such as delay in the delivery of materials or spare parts, temporary work stoppage and travel restrictions were stated as some of the reasons for the plant’s extended outages.”

NGCP is the one sorting out the yearly Grid Operating and Maintenance Program (GOMP) which tackles the scheduling of preventive maintenance of power plants – and that is reckoned with the needed supply in the system vis-à-vis projected demand.

The transmission firm still qualified though that “the projected shortage may possibly not occur if the forecasted peak demand for this year will not be realized as a result of the quarantine restrictions placed in several parts of the country, particularly in Metro Manila, which is the load center of the Luzon grid.”

But the company pointed out that if the plant outages will exacerbate, brownout conditions may still be a ‘worst case scenario’ that the country’s major grid could be plunged into and for consumers to suffer from.

NGCP explained that “the Luzon grid needs around 4.0-percent of peak demand, or around 475 megawatts in regulating power to stabilize the grid.”

Additionally, it is required “to maintain power equivalent to the largest plant online of about 647MW as contingency power to support the grid in case of an emergency power plant shutdown.”

Once the net operating margin falls below the prescribed numbers, NGCP said it will already need to issue “grid alert notices,” which under certain conditions, would redound to implementation of manual load dropping “or rotating power interruptions to protect the integrity of the power grid.”

And while the grid is at its unsteady frame because of the power plant outages, NGCP asserted it can only appeal to the public “to use electricity efficiently and help prevent any occurrence of power interruptions due to the lean supply especially in the summer months.”