Power rates to rise as govt turns to diesel-fired plants

by Alena Mae S. Flores –  April 20, 2016 at 11:45 pm

from Manila Standard Today

Power rates will likely rise in May as coal plants undergo maintenance shutdown and power plants shift to diesel as fuel, the Energy Department said Wednesday.

Energy Secretary Zenaida Monsada said the power plants mostly using coal were forced to undergo maintenance shutdown before the elections to ensure they would be online by May.

“We replaced coal with bunker or diesel-fired plants. Like Malaya, we asked it to run and it uses special fuel oil, in between bunker and diesel. It’s still more expensive than coal,” Monsada said.

She said the participants of the interruptible load program that were tapped during the April 15 power shortage had to use their generators running on diesel and gasoline.

ILP participants are compensated for not drawing power from the grid during times of shortage and for running their own generating sets.

ILP helped contain the peak demand at 9,416 megawatts on April 15.

A total of 247 MW of power was deloaded from 121 participants, sparing 290,000 customers in Metro Manila and nearby provinces from rotating brownouts.

“So because demand has been going up, electricity prices will also likely go up because of the use of diesel as fuel,” Monsada said.

Monsada also said the higher electricity cost was “a consequence of meeting the necessary power supply.”

“The plants did not go offline on purpose. It so happens that it’s summer and they have to be on maintenance schedule,” Monsada said.

She said that by going into maintenance shutdown prior to the elections, the power plants would be available and running during the critical period a week before and a week after the elections.

The Energy Department called on electricity consumers to conserve energy not only during the summer period, but throughout the year.

“Historically, power consumption spikes during hot summer months as more consumers spend time in their homes and use cooling equipment to make them feel comfortable,” it said.