DOE still fidgety over summer supply: Turn for the Senate to act on measure passed by House

by Myrna Velasco, January 19, 2015
from Manila Bulletin

Contingency measures are being ramped up, but the Department of Energy (DOE) has indicated that it is still “on the edge” over power supply during the peak demand months of summer.

Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla described that “nothing has really changed” although he acknowledged that middle ground are already being set as to the propounded interruptible load program (ILP) that could help shore up capacity for Luzon grid.

DOE logoAs Congress sessions would finally resume from holiday-driven hiatus, the energy chief is expecting that the policies and rules underpinning the mandate on tapping interruptible loads of self-generating facilities (SGFs) may finally be harmonized and approved in invoking Section 71 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act.

That particular provision prescribes the crafting of measures that the government may undertake in cases of shortfalls or ‘imminent crisis’ in the country’s electricity supply.

“Congress had a recess, so it (Joint Resolution) is still pending with the Senate. But I think the Senate is going to take it up (this week), so we are hoping that all measures will be put in place,” Petilla said.

So far, he noted that the positive developments in the array of discussions had been the “agreements” they already had with Senate energy committee chairman Sergio Osmena III.

The House version of the joint resolution was passed last year, so the last leg of that Congressional maze for Section 71 will be the Senate’s action.

Petilla noted that in principle, there was already a consensus to suspend the use of biofuels for the 1,200-megawatt Ilijan plant, for it to possibly run at higher capacity during the summer months.

But the energy chief emphasized that all is not well with the Ilijan plant, noting that one unit has some “technical issues” and had been placed on shutdown. The Ilijan plant comprises of two blocks at 600MW capacity each.

“We are still talking to them (Ilijan plant operator) because one option there is not to schedule yet the maintenance of one of the units, but we have some technical issues to settle. Again, we are doing everything we can in getting all resources needed to run the plant this summer,” Petilla stressed.

Beyond pure diesel use for Ilijan plant, the other measures proposed under the Section 71 mandate would be “modified compensation scheme” to ensure full cost recovery of the ILP participants; as well as suspension of some Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) Rules for plants with technical limitations, such as hydro and diesel facilities.

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