Unstable PH power market gears for Asean integration

by Riza T. Olchondra – 01:46 AM December 23rd, 2015

from Philippine Daily Inquirer

THE YEAR 2015 has been a banner year for cooperation in various areas among Southeast Asian countries as the Asean Economic Community (AEC) commencement draws near.

The energy sector, which will fuel greater economic growth in the region, is no exception.

Against this backdrop, energy spot market operator Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC) signed a cooperation agreement with its counterpart in Singapore, the Energy Market Co. (EMC). The aim is to reinforce existing cooperation (PEMC representatives have periodically visited Singapore to learn from their counterparts there) between the Philippine Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) and the National Electricity Market of Singapore.

“We hope to promote collaboration and synergy as the Philippine power industry readies itself in the Asean economic integration,” PEMC president Melinda L. Ocampo said.

Singapore’s power market may be smaller than the Philippines in terms of volume—only 5.5 million customers—but it is deemed more efficient. It is efficient enough that its total electricity consumption is bought and sold in the market and even has a day-ahead market.

In the Philippines, PEMC serves Luzon mainly. However, only 10 percent of the country’s energy consumption is traded through the WESM.

Energy Secretary Zenaida Monsada supported the cooperation deal, saying both market operators are keen on joint seminars, information exchange, and consultations on technical and commercial issues. But the energy chief said such collaboration should not only be about spot market operators getting together.

The end goal is to have a highly competitive WESM that ensures sufficient, reliable and least-cost power supply for Philippine consumers and eventually be a model for innovation within the AEC.

“It is important to take this opportunity to learn about RE (renewable energy) market integration, Asean market enhancements, and shifting towards an independent Philippine electricity market operations, and assess how we can apply them to our local energy market,” Monsada said, noting that climate change and curbing the intensity of power usage to ease carbon emissions are emerging concerns.

The International Energy Agency’s global energy outlook noted the energy sector not only supports economies but plays a pivotal role in climate change mitigation.

Grid stability and growth in power investments are also paramount. In this regard, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines has vowed to support energy growth and WESM evolution with a strong transmission network.

Company president and CEO Henry Sy Jr. said there have been “extensive” discussions on RE and other issues between NGCP and PEMC.

While these synergies are being explored, Monsada said the Philippines must assess how the country’s energy system can take advantage and contribute to an ever evolving and expanding regional power market.