DOE orders power firms to continue operations

By The Philippine Star – March 27, 2020 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Energy (DOE) has directed power industry participants to continue operations as part of continuing efforts to deliver sufficient and continuous power supply amid the enhanced community quarantine period.

In a statement, the DOE said it directed all wholesale electricity spot market (WESM) participants to adhere to existing rules and regulations, and continue their trading operations.

“ A decline in power demand does not mean that operations could and should be put to rest,” Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said.

“In fact, as we battle the COVID-19 crisis, now is the time for us to double our efforts to ensure that we can provide sufficient and continuous electricity services to each and every household, as well as across key industries of our country,” he said.

Guided by the WESM Rules and its Market Manuals, the DOE, together with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), will ensure the fair and efficient operations of WESM by monitoring the compliance of all trading participants despite their request to shut down some generating units for economic reasons.

The rules also highlighted that generating units would not be allowed to shut down other than for planned maintenance and forced outages due to technical problems.

“These are trying times so we need to work together in the spirit of bayanihan to provide the necessary services to our people,” Cusi said.

San Miguel Corp. (SMC) president and chief operating officer Ramon Ang said there is sufficient power to supply the requirements of the country for the duration of the enhanced community quarantine.

However, given the slowdown in economic activity, he said power facilities would have to scale down production to save on fuel and further secure supply for the next coming months.

“We will continue to operate all our power facilities safely despite the challenges we face and make sure that we supply power where it’s needed. We have prepared for these types of situations and we are ready,” Ang said.

Ang, who heads power subsidiary SMC Global Power Holdings Corp., said while there is no issue with power supply today, it would be prudent for power facilities to save as much fuel to ensure continuous operation.

Last March 14, the DOE issued a memorandum which provides the guidelines for the unimpeded delivery of energy services.

The Energy chief ordered unrestricted importation and domestic transportation of fuel such as diesel, fuel oil, natural gas, coal, and lubricants. The same goes for spare parts needed to build, operate, and  maintain energy infrastructure including energy exploration, development, generation, transmission, distribution, and energy retail.

The memorandum also covered the free movement of local energy personnel to make sure energy services are delivered.