DOE doesn’t see need for emergency powers

by Lenie LecturaApril 25, 2016

from Business Mirror

THE demand is high, while the power reserve is thin. But the Department of Energy (DOE) said there is no power crisis, so there’s no need for the department to seek emergency powers for President Aquino to invoke Section 71 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act.

“We don’t see the need for emergency powers, because we are managing it,” said Energy Secretary Zenaida Y. Monsada on Monday’s briefing, referring to the country’s power situation, particularly on May 9, the election day. “We are learning things from last year and the previous election. At this point, there is strong cooperation among all stakeholders in the power sector.”

Monsada’s predecessor, Carlos Jericho L. Petillla, recommended in July 2014 to the President to invoke Section 71 of the Epira to address a feared power shortage in Luzon that did not happen in the summer of 2015.

Petilla’s pronouncement did cause quite a stir, because, for one, there were controversies hounding the Executive branch on the Disbursement Acceleration Program during that time.  Many were worried that there could be abuse of power if the President was granted emergency powers by Congress to address the tightness in power supply.

“There is no need for such,” reiterated Monsada. “First, we are looking at supply, if it’s enough or not, and if there is enough reserve or not,” she added, when asked what could trigger the agency to recommend emergency powers to the President.

For Luzon, she said electricity demand on election day could hit an average of 9,000 megawatts (MW), as against 12,000 MW of supply. This leaves 3,000 MW in power reserves.

The 12,000-MW power-generating capacity already includes the much-awaited new gas plants from Lopez-led First Gen Corp. These are the 414-MW San Gabriel and the 97-MW Avion plants.

“They are now in the testing stage,” Monsada said. “There are plants that are coming in that are not initially part of the forecast.”

The DOE chief, however, could not assure a brownout-free election day, because it could not predict if any of the power plants would suddenly conk out.

 “The DOE cannot say that there won’t be any blackout, because we are not the power-plant operators. But we will assure the public that we are doing all the preparations necessary to avert such incident. That is why we are appealing to all generation companies in Luzon to make all the necessary preparations. They must do all the repairs before election,” she said.

For the Manila Electric Co., the utility firm’s president, Oscar Reyes, said the Interruptible Load Program is one way to help avert a possible power crisis.

“I think, we are working very well since 2014. We are also monitoring the maintenance schedule of power plants, hoping that it is all spread out. We also hope that new power plants—the San Gabriel and the Avion—will be activated before elections. At the end of the day, it all boils down to supply,” Reyes said, when asked
to comment.