NEA warns of possible rotating blackouts
Danessa Rivera (The Philippine Star) - February 18, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The National Electrification Administration (NEA) wants all electric cooperatives (ECs) to prepare for the summer months as it warns of possible rotating blackouts lasting up to an hour.

In a briefing yesterday, NEA administrator Edgardo Masongsong said he had directed  all ECs in Luzon and Visayas to prepare their respective contingency plans to mitigate the impact of potential power supply deficits in their areas.

This as the Department of Energy (DOE) raised concerns over the tight supply of electricity during the summer months.

Yellow and red alerts could be issued especially during times of peak demand, DOE said.

A yellow alert means there is not enough reserves to cover the largest running generating unit at the time, but does not necessarily lead to power outages.

Meanwhile, a red alert status means there is severe power deficiency in the power grid, leading to rotational outages or manual load dropping in some areas.

Citing DOE estimates, Masongsong said red alerts may be issued from April 18 to 21 and May 20 to 22.

DOE data showed the  Luzon grid requires an additional capacity of 256 megawatts (MW) to 821 MW to avoid the yellow or red alert in the region.

In the same briefing, NEA director Ferdinand Villareal said Luzon ECs would experience the impact of tight power supply.

With a deficiency of 800 MW, some Luzon ECs could experience rotational blackouts of one hour at most during peak hours, Villareal said.

To reduce the occurence of rotating brownouts, NEA has recommended various measures that ECs may adopt, including the adoption of demand-side management programs and maximizing embedded power plants.

In Luzon, five ECs have embedded power plants with a combined capacity of 11.696 MW.

In the Visayas, three power distribution utilities have embedded mini-hydro power plants with a total capacity of 10.42 MW.

“We have already advised ECs that do not have embedded power plants or generators to initiate demand-side management programs, wherein the ECs will work with big electricity consumers in order for them to reduce their usage when demand is high or when an alert level is issued,” Masongsong said.

NEA has also recommended that ECs implement load curtailment or load shedding in their respective coverage areas when necessary.

Affected ECs are also directed to encourage large establishments with stand-by generating capacities to participate in the interruptible load program (ILP).

Under the ILP program, big consumers will be asked to run their embedded stand-by generating sets during peak hours instead of obtaining their supply from power distribution utilities. 

“Conserving electricity is the responsibility of every consumer and should be done all throughout the year – but this is even more important every summer, when power consumption peaks due to the heavy use of air conditioners and similar appliances during these warmer months,” Masongsong said.

“We encourage the public to do their part to help reduce electricity consumption, especially during peak hours, by turning off unused lights, unplugging idle devices, setting air conditioners at a reasonably comfortable temperatures, and using energy-efficient appliances,” he said.

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