DOE to meet with NGCP on summer power scenario

Published January 12, 2022, 2:32 PM

by Myrna M. Velasco

The Department of Energy (DOE) is scheduling a meeting with system operator National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) for updating of power supply-demand forecasts in view of “No-El” (no electricity) fears being raised this year’s summer months and on the May 9, 2022 elections.

According to Energy Assistant Secretary Redentor E. Delola, the last power supply outlook drawn up by the DOE that was done in collaboration with stakeholders was for the last quarter of 2021 where the overall projection then pointed to sufficient power supply for the first quarter of 2022.

The sudden blitz of “yellow alert” condition in the main power grid this week prompted the energy department to study the areas where forecasting has to be re-calibrated. The meeting also seeks to explore contingency measures to be enforced especially when demand would gather pace in the summer months and the election period.

“We will meet with NGCP this week for updates,” the energy official stressed; while noting that on their initial assessment, there had been no major changes on demand so far.

Nevertheless, Delola admitted that they could not precisely factor in in the last projections the ‘forced outages’ of power plants and the de-rating of the other generating facilities, including the gas-fired power plants because of limited gas output from Malampaya.

In addition, he emphasized that the scheduling of the preventive maintenance shutdowns (PMS) of power plants shall likewise be reviewed, as the alignment may trigger ‘stress’ or unwarranted capacity reductions in the system especially at a time when demand would be hitting their peak.

Historically, “yellow” and “red alert” conditions in the power system only happen during the peak-demand months of summer. As such, it has been a puzzle to the power sector why such predicaments are happening when electricity demand is still very low – considering also that the wind and hydro plants are still at their maximum generation capacities, and demand was practically muted by ‘alert level 3’ Covid restrictions in Metro Manila and neighboring areas.

During the January 10-11 “yellow alert” or “insufficiency of reserve” conditions in the Luzon grid, the power plant called upon for dispatch was the half-a-century-year-old unit 2 Malaya thermal plant with a capacity of 350 megawatts.

And given that the replacement capacity injected into the system is from a diesel-fired power plant, there are also nagging questions as to its implication on the carbon footprints reduction target of the energy sector as cast by the DOE.

Another critical concern that the energy department will be addressing would be the ‘gas restriction’ dilemma of the Malampaya gas field, hence, a separate meeting with operator Shell Philippines Exploration B.V. (SPEX) will also be slated.

Delola said the DOE will include its Energy Resource Development Bureau (ERDB) in that targeted discussion with the Malampaya field operator, so the government can be fully apprised on the extent of gas restriction that the offtaker-power plants will have to put up with this year.