Risks from nCoV spur ERC to defer genco inspections

By Lenie Lectura -February 7, 2020
from Business Mirror

ERC chief Agnes Devanadera

THE Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) will defer inspection of the facilities of certain power generation firms because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The inspection is necessary before the ERC can act on the applications for new and renewal of Certificate of Compliance (CoC).

“NCoV affects inspection of facilities for renewal and new application of COCs. We have schedules but we need to be concerned on the effects of nCoV because everybody is concerned about that. So, in areas where the government has identified that there is a possibility of the spread of the virus, we can, to our level, defer the inspection until better times,” said ERC chief Agnes Devanadera.

Another ERC official later explained that while most of the facilities for inspection are “sanitized,” most of them require long journeys to reach—with flights and land travel that could expose the ERC teams.

Devanadera said there are “1,000 plus sites, including SPUG [Small Power Utilities Group] areas” that are up for inspection by ERC’s technical team.

The ERC has received applications for new COCs involving 46 power plants in the main grid and 137 power plants in off-grid. The generating capacity is 3,219 megawatts and 267MW, respectively.

For CoC renewal, the ERC has received applications for 59 power plants, with a total capacity of 7,673MW, in the main grid. For off-grid areas, there are 27 power plants, with a capacity of 83.93MW, seeking for CoC renewal.

Among the power plants seeking COC renewal are Ilijan, Masinloc, Sem-Calaca, San Bueneventura Power Ltd. and SNAP-Magat.

On top of these, the ERC also needs to inspect 1,276 metering points of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP).

“But it does not mean that these plants will not be able to go online considering the acute supply. Now, we can see that the coronavirus is affecting the movements of people, especially.

“Even the trainings that we’re supposed to send our people to are being put on hold.  At least for the first quarter, we will not send people for training abroad,” added Devanadera.

In order not to affect the power supply, the ERC will issue temporary permits valid for six months.

“Only those up for renewal will be given provisional [permits]. [The] duration of the provisional approval is [only for six months]. If certain gencos already have testing results na they can also be given provisional approval,” she added in a mix of English and Filipino.

ERC Commissioners Josefina Patricia Magpale-Asirit said affected gencos seeking for CoC renewal should apply three months before the expiration of their certificates.

Normally, she said, inspection takes place after the agency has been notified that the power plant is ready for commissioning and testing. From that time on, as long the records are complete, no other requirements will be sought.  “It can already go up to the ad hoc in two to three weeks, then it can go to the commission in another two weeks,” Asirit said, referring to how long the process takes place.

The suspension of inspection is only temporary. “We will assess these first three months. The risk ng exposure is not in the actual areas of the power plants because most of these are  sanitized. But before [our teams] can reach those sites is a long journey. They would have to take an airplane and land travel combined,” explained Asirit.