Electricity peak demand starts moving away from summer months

by Myrna Velasco – November 20, 2015

from Manila Bulletin

A unique circumstance has overwhelmed the power sector this year as it was the first time that peak demand in electricity had shifted away from summer months.

Generally, peak demand period in Luzon grid or at least in the franchise area of the country’s biggest power utility Manila Electric Company (Meralco) is logged around May – but this time, it had migrated to August which typically should have been a low-demand month.

“Peak demand for electricity surged in August to a record of 6,298 megawatts, the first time peak demand in any year was registered outside of the summer months of March to June,” Meralco has reported.

This then prompts power utilities also to be very proactive in keeping their systems and networks reliable, not only in summer but on other months of the year.

“This has heightened our focus on ensuring that we maintain a highly reliable and new-normal hardened network infrastructure,” the company said.

For the power system nationwide, the next challenge will be on keeping the lights on as the El Niño phenomenon strikes from November this year until first quarter of 2016.

Meralco noted that the country is not “out of the woods yet” when it comes to its power supply dilemmas – and will not be so until all the required additional capacities for the long-term would come on stream.

Electricity sales across customer segments were noted to have been continuously on uptrend – and investments in capacity additions must keep pace with that.

In the service area of Meralco, in particular, it emphasized the “strong demand of all customer classes” in addition to the requirement of new customer connections.

In the last three quarters, the utility firm has reported brisk sales growth — with the commercial sector posting significant contribution.

“The energy sales mix consists of commercial segment accounting for 40-percent share in sales; residential and industrial segments accounted for 30-percent share each,” Meralco said.

It added that “the ramp-up in real estate, retail trade and hotel and entertainment industries contributed to the larger portion of the increase in commercial sales.”

Further, it stressed that  “the growth in sales volume in September, 2015 alone was 8.0-percent, the third highest growth during the first nine months of 2015.”