‘Looming power gap a generation issue’

By Lenie Lectura -February 21, 2020
from Business Mirror

THE impending power shortage in the summer months this year is mainly due to power generation problems, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) said on Thursday.

As such, the grid system operator is calling for the intervention of government agencies, particularly those in the energy industry, to address the power shortage looming over the Luzon Grid.

“With the increase in power demand, lack of new baseload plants, power plants de commissioning and longer unplanned maintenance shutdowns of aging plants, as well as the unpredictable weather, NGCP is urging the authorities to focus efforts on stemming what seems to be an impending power shortage in Luzon, especially during the summer season,” it said.

“As the Transmission Network Provider and System Operator, NGCP performs its functions within the bounds of its mandate. We cannot provide or implement solutions to a generation deficiency-induced shortage,” it added.

Under the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira), NGCP said it could not intervene on issues in the generation and distribution sectors. Its responsibility is limited to the operations and maintenance of the power transmission network.

The Department of Energy (DOE) forecasts a total System Peak Demand of 12,285 megawatts  for Luzon to occur in May 2020, an increase of 8.3 percent from the actual 2019 peak demand of 11,344 MW which occurred on June 21, 2019.

For Visayas and Mindanao, peak demand for both regions for 2019 occurred in May, a shift from previous years when peak demands were recorded during the last quarter of the year.

Shift in usage

“THERE appears to be a shift in the way consumers use power. Luzon’s

annual peak demand was long driven by increased use during the hot summer months. Mindanao and Visayas peak usage usually occur at the end of the year. The regulator and authorities must take a closer look at the shifts in peak demand and strategize short term and long-term solutions to address the ever increasing need for power vis-à-vis power consumption trends,” the company said.

Between April to June this year, electricity supply is forecast to be thin even with an expected incoming 700-MW capacity from new power plants.

The Luzon grid needs around 4 percent of the peak demand, or around 491 MW in regulating power to stabilize the grid. It also needs to maintain power equivalent to the largest plant online, which is 647 MW, as contingency power to support the grid in case of an emergency power plant shutdown.

Should the net operating margin fall below these numbers, NGCP will issue a yellow alert. Further, if the power supply falls below the System Peak Demand, a red alert will be issued. This means that load dropping or rotating power interruptions may be implemented to protect the integrity of the power grid.

“Power supply takes more than just a plus-minus strategy. Types of power technology, power plant location, use habits and trends, and lead times for installation of additional capacity must be taken into account when developing the country’s power development plan. Otherwise, the default strategy will always revert to stop gap measures,” said NGCP.