Senate OKs Noy powers to address blackouts

Marvin Sy - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The Senate yesterday approved a resolution giving President Aquino special powers to address the expected power shortage in the summer months of this year.

Senators also approved Senate Bill 2622, which seeks to amend a provision of the Biofuels Act in relation to the joint resolution.

Both measures were approved with a vote of 16-0.

The Senate and the House of Representatives will hold a bicameral conference committee hearing today to reconcile their respective versions of the resolution.

Instead of leasing generator sets (gensets), the Senate-approved joint resolution called for several alternatives, including the harnessing of the Interruptible Load Program (ILP).

“There are existing generating sets owned by the private sector which may be harnessed to address probable shortages during peak hours at a much lower cost of P7 to P9 per kilowatt-hour,” the resolution stated.

“The electricity end-users with self-generating capability may be tapped through the Interruptible Load Program to provide additional relief to the grid in case the supply above regulating reserve is below 350 MW or there is critical loading or imminent overloading of transmission lines or equipment, where projected demand is higher than available supply critical to ensure system security,” it added.

Under the ILP, private firms, particularly big business and industries that can supply their own power requirements through the use of their gensets, will be asked to turn on their gensets at certain hours of certain days to reduce the demand on power from the grid.

Voluntary participation

In line with the ILP solution, the joint resolution directs the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to amend the rules to cover voluntary participation of the potential participants.

The ERC will also provide for the maintenance cost of at least P0.32 per kilowatt-hour in the “de-loading compensation formula.”

Funding for the compensation of the ILP participants will be sourced from the Malampaya Fund.

“To incentivize and encourage participation in the ILP, the de-loading compensation given to the ILP participant shall be considered a reimbursement for cost and shall not form part of gross receipts, and shall not be subject to income, value-added and/or local business taxes,” the resolution stated.

The joint resolution also directs the Department of Energy to order the Philippine Electricity Market Corp., National Power Corp., National Water Resources Board, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Bureau of Customs, National Irrigation Authority, Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management (PSALM) and concerned local government units to facilitate the issuance of or suspend the application of necessary certifications, permits, licenses, consents and other authorization for committed projects and plans for connection, interconnection or transmission and rehabilitation of existing generating units as long as they can guarantee delivery of additional capacity from March 1 to July 31, 2015.

The “must offer” rule under the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market rules in the case of the Kaliraya Pump Storage Power Plant and the Caliraya Hydroelectric Plant will also be suspended during the period covered by the joint resolution.

One of the solutions being eyed for the power shortage is the increase in the generation capacity of the Ilijan Combined Cycle Power Plant in Batangas, which would require the plant to run on pure diesel instead of a natural gas mix.

Volunteer for ILP

As this developed, Malacañang is urging more companies to volunteer for the ILP to address the energy crisis.

“Even as they speak, we are already recruiting more and more companies to engage in the Interruptible Load Program. In fact, very recently… the Department of Energy issued or put out an ad on the number of companies now involved in the ILP. And we continue to ask companies to volunteer themselves for the ILP,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda told a press briefing.

Lacierda said Malacañang is prepared to implement the law, but it is up to the Senate and the House to reconcile their versions and come up with the best program that will suit the needs of the country.

Renewable energy

Meanwhile, stakeholders are pushing for a greener and more renewable power supply in Mindanao in the next five years even as more coal-fired power plants will be operational in the region by next year.

Sec. Luwalhati Antonino, chairperson of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDa), said renewable energy should be a prominent source of electricity in the region.

“There are good things coming in for Mindanao and power is one of them,” she said.

Antonino noted that the power situation in Mindanao had significantly improved compared to previous years.

She said power supply in Mindanao is expected to surpass demand with the coming on line of the 300-megawatt Therma South and the first 100 MW out of 200 MW from Sarangani Energy Corp.

Antonino said the expected entry of more base load capacities from coal-fired power plants totaling 2,000 MW until 2018 should be complemented by the accelerated deployment of renewable energy projects such as hydro, biomass, geothermal and solar.

“A diversified mix of fossil and renewable energy sources is integral to our overall strategy of pursuing balanced and holistic economic growth in Mindanao,” said Romeo Montenegro, MinDA’s director for Investment Promotions and Public Affairs.

Montenegro said pursuing renewable energy development is aligned with MinDA’s Mindanao 2020 Peace and Development Framework Plan, which recognizes power as a major enabling factor for socio-economic development.

Power outage in C. Luzon

In a related development, a power interruption is expected to hit Sta. Cruz, Guagua, Bacolor, Sta. Rita, Sasmuan, Porac, Lubao and Floridablanca in Pampanga from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow.

Ernest Lorenz Vidal, public affairs officer of the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines for Central Luzon, said the power outage would facilitate annual preventive maintenance of a 100MVA transformer at the Hermosa substation and 1.5MVA transformer at Basa substation as well as transmission line repair along the Hermosa-Guagua 69 kilovolt line.

In the Mindanao grid, Steag State Power Inc. (SPI) said 105 MW have been restored after preventive maintenance for its electric power-generating unit 2 was completed.

SPI Power Plant manager Carsten Evers said the unit was synchronized to the Mindanao grid at 6:08 a.m. yesterday.

Unit 2 went offline starting Feb. 19.

Preventive maintenance for SPI’s unit 1 is also in full swing and on track. Barring any complication, unit 1 is expected to be back online at the latest by March 16. The unit went offline for a planned preventive maintenance since Feb. 21. –  With Aurea Calica, Ric Sapnu, Edith Regalado, Gerry Lee Gorit


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