Power supply level seen most critical on April 5-15

Users urged to find ways of curbing consumption

by Riza Olchondra, February 19, 2015
from Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines–The power sector urged businesses and households to be extra-mindful on their power usage, particularly in the period of April 5 to 15.

Philippine Independent Power Producers Association Inc. (Pippa) president Luis Miguel Aboitiz said, “supply is tight from the end of March to the end of June and there could be brownouts if more than one major power plant goes on forced outage (unexpected shutdown), but the real time to focus on is April 5 to 15.”

Aboitiz said it would help prevent outages if demand could be lessened or at least kept stable during the critical period. He urged households, businesses and factories to curb electricity use during peak hours within the critical two-week period.

However, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry COO and honorary chair Donald Dee said in a phone interview that it might be more feasible to call on the demand-easing Interruptible Load Program (ILP).

“Most factories operate 24/7, with optimal energy usage because they don’t want to bring costs up, so there’s not much more energy management from there because it would be in effect asking them to cut production. And that will hurt our economy. The ILP should be ready during that critical period,” Dy said.

Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), which is leading the ILP, tested Wednesday the voluntary program set up to cope with the power crisis this summer.

Meralco head for utility economics, Lawrence Fernandez, said in a roundtable that a dry run was conducted with 323 individual accounts with total de-loading capacity. These companies with about 617 megawatts in capacity from own-use generation sets were those that have formally signed up for the ILP.

The testing period was from 10 a.m. to 12 noon and from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Wednesday.

Fernandez noted that only companies that had formalized their ILP commitment by signing agreements with Meralco and designating point persons for the program were included in the dry run.

“This was the first time we had a dry run for all (ILP) participating customers,” Fernandez said.

Meralco had a smaller-scale dry run for individual customers last year, with three SM malls and one Robinson’s mall participating.

The DOE has raised the alarm on possible two-hour rotating brownouts as early as March due to tight power supply. There could be a lack of power reserves of around 700MW, according to estimates.