DOE asked to retire old power plants

Published June 7, 2021, 3:11 PM

by Myrna M. Velasco

Like human workforce, technologies like power generating facilities also deserve ‘retirement’ days, hence, the Department of Energy (DOE) is being prodded to look into this policy consideration on its energy planning task, so consumers won’t be perennially saddled with brownout due to antiquated and inefficient energy generating plants.

Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Chairperson Agnes T. Devanadera reminded the energy department again in a Congressional hearing last week to seriously assess this matter, given the incessant outages being suffered by several power plants in various parts of the country.

Illustration of the ages of power plants operating in Luzon grid. Source: ERC Presentation to the House Committee on Energy (June 4, 2021)

“I said policy consideration because this is where the energy sector led by the DOE to really look into and address,” the ERC chief stressed.

She qualified that based on their analysis, “most plants in Luzon are 16 years and older; and we think for policy consideration, we have to look into this — that as power plants get older even if we give them planned maintenance periods, because they are old, they cannot be that efficient anymore.”

As further noted by the industry regulator, 14.06-percent of the generating facilities with 2,282.768 megawatts of installed capacity are 30 years old and above; 3.20-percent with 519.090MW capacity are 26 to 30 years old; 24.02-percent with 3,900.16MW are 21 to 25 years old; 29.35-percent for 4,764.7MW are 16 to 20 years old; 2.43-percent or 393.99MW are 11 to 15 years old; 9.27-percent at 1,504.36MW are 6 to 10 years old; and 17.69% with 2,871.645MW are 0 to 5 year-old plants.

Given the operating age of the power plants, the regulatory body similarly factored in the de-rating of their capacities as well as the higher scale of forced outages they incur despite their yearly maintenance shutdowns.

Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi previously stated that in the updating of the Philippine Energy Plan (PEP), the DOE will finally be demarcating the power plants lined up for retirements.

He then indicated that government will not just be looking at the age of the power plants, but also the facet of their operations as to how efficient and reliable these have been in delivering power supply and service to the consumers.

Alongside that policy enforcement, the energy chief had given assurances that the DOE will also sort out prospective replacements of the power facilities to be retired or ordered to cease operations – primarily the type of technology that shall be deployed for their capacity replacements.

Cusi expounded it’s not just the age or years of operations of the power facilities that are being considered; because several power companies have opted to upgrade and reinforced the capacity of their assets through the years, so these somehow improved their efficiencies.

“We will be considering all factors – not just the age, because we need power. So we can’t just have arbitrary decision,” Cusi pointed out.

Last January, energy officials sounded off that they were still firming up the list as to which power plants shall already be rendered as ‘candidates for retirement’; although they specified that they will not make the list public yet until after they have weighed all factors that will become the basis of their decision to terminate the operation of certain power facilities.