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Daily updates on power supply sought

Laban Konsyumer Inc. (LKI) has urged the Department of Energy and the Energy Regulatory Commission to provide daily updates on the status of power plants so that consumers can monitor the power situation of the grid on a daily basis.

The consumer group said the agencies have to be more transparent in  the wake of the yellow alert level raised yesterday  in the Luzon grid due to low level of power reserves.

The DOE said t the yellow alert was lifted at 3:30 p.m. yesterday due to sufficient operating reserve brought by low actual system demand.

However, the agency noted that it is closely coordinating with power industry players to ensure delivery of electricity services to consumers and in the facilitation of power plants that are undergoing testing and commissioning.

“It would be best if the government could provide consumers a list of all the plants and an inventory of when these power plants scheduled shutdown. There should be contingency plans in place for unscheduled outages due to technical problems and/or force majeure. We observed (this) is where the problem occurs… when there is a sudden, simultaneous shutdown of power plants and the prices in the spot market go up,” said Vic Dimagiba, LKI  president.

Dimagiba said distribution utilities may have to source additional power leading to the summer months and midterm elections as power plant outages and rising demand due to warmer temperature and election-related activities.

This, he said,  can lead to higher power rates for consumers.

“Power rates historically go up at the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), the country’s trading floor of electricity, during summer months because of the tightness in supply. All stakeholders should meet to ensure there is adequate and reliable supply during summer and midterm elections and to ensure minimal impact on consumers,” Dimagiba said.

According to an official privy to technical information but requested anonymity, a total of eight power plants yesterday contributed to the low power reserves in the Luzon grid.

It included the forced outage of 344 megawatts (MW) Masinloc 2; 382 MW Pagbilao 1; 150 MW SLTEC 1 and the 350 MW Malaya 2. 

Calaca 2 was derated at 200 MW from its original 300 MW capacity; South Luzon Power Generation Corp. 2 at 100 MW from nameplate capacity of 150 MW; and Pagbilao 3 at 315 MW from 420 MW.

The 300 MW Calaca 1 is also under scheduled maintenance until June.

Earlier, an unofficial policy was tested by the government that delays the announcements of yellow alert levels until the next day, in order to possibly taper the expected spike of prices in WESM during days when reserves are low.