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DOE seeks DOJ help on power plant outages
Parts of Luzon experienced rotational blackouts as the Luzon grid was placed on red alert for two hours on Monday, 11 hours on Tuesday and 13 hours on Wednesday due to unplanned or forced outages of generation plants owned by the private sector.
The STAR/Michael Varcas, file

DOE seeks DOJ help on power plant outages

Edu Punay (The Philippine Star) - June 5, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Energy (DOE) has asked the assistance of the Department of Justice (DOJ) in looking into the alleged “sabotage” angle in the recent power plant outages that caused rotational blackouts in Luzon.?“Actually we asked the help of the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) and the DOJ for us to look into the situation. We are still in the process of collating information and we have not yet identified which particular generating companies are to be subjected,” DOE-Electric Power Industry Management Bureau (EPIMB) director Mario Marasigan told lawmakers during the House committee on energy hearing.

Parts of Luzon experienced rotational blackouts as the Luzon grid was placed on red alert for two hours on Monday, 11 hours on Tuesday and 13 hours on Wednesday due to unplanned or forced outages of generation plants owned by the private sector.

Marasigan said the DOE is serious in going after these generation companies who could be at fault for the recent power outages.

During the hearing, the DOE said it expects power reserves to remain thin for the whole month, until power generators bump up reserves.

“If there are no power plants resuming operations by next week, we will remain below the red line. That means we still lack enough regulating reserves which may lead to red alert warnings,” he said.

DOE data from June 4 to 10 showed Luzon’s available capacity averages 12,049 megawatts while peak demand is at 11,645 MW, leaving the grid with only 404 MW in gross reserves.

When the three 145-MW units of San Roque Power Corp. and 316-MW unit of GNPower Mariveles Energy Center resume operations by the third week of June, Luzon’s gross reserves can increase from 886 to 1,005 MW. – With Danessa Rivera, Paolo Romero, Rainier Allan Ronda

Power for People Coalition (P4P) convenor Gerry Arances said measures must be pursued to ensure long-term solutions and hold the culprit accountable.

The group also asked Congress to assess if the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA) succeeded in fostering healthy competition in the energy sector and securing affordable electricity for consumers.

For his part, Sen. Franklin Drilon warned the DOE against shifting blame to private power companies for its failure to avert blackouts.

“It’s disappointing. Blame everyone except yourself. Where is accountability?” Drilon said, after Sen. Manny Pacquiao called out Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi for failing to avert the rolling power outages.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, chair of the Senate committee on energy, said he would call for a probe on the precarious power supply, which will affect the rollout of the country’s COVID-19 vaccination program.

Collaboration

Meanwhile, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) is looking at a potential collaboration with multinational Argentine power giant IMPSA regarding renewable energy initiatives for the Philippines.

Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said they are having virtual exploratory talks with IMPSA for an S&T collaboration. He mentioned that over 600 representatives from the DOST, DOE and IMPSA gathered online for a June 1 webinar discussing renewable energy development and policies, using artificial intelligence (AI) to detect anomalies in hydroelectric power plant equipment, and DOST’s initiatives on AI.

DOST-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute director Carlo Arcilla added that Argentina is strong on nuclear science research, because Argentine firm INVAP built the research reactors of Australia and the Netherlands.

“We can learn from them in the area of nuclear education. Not just in the matter of nuclear power, they are leading in making research reactors,” Arcilla told The STAR.

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