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DOE tells power sector to ensure sufficient power for elections

Angelica Y. Yang - Philstar.com
DOE tells power sector to ensure sufficient power for elections
The 2022 national and local elections will take place on May 9.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Energy (DOE) ordered all generation companies (gencos), the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP), and distribution utilities (DUs) to ensure adequate power during the critical elections period.

Stable power is required to transmit polling data. 

The DOE posted on its website three separate advisories last week telling members of the energy sector to undertake several actions in the weeks leading up to elections. The advisories were signed by the Secretary Alfonso Cusi and issued on March 30. 

The agency also told gencos and DUs to ensure enough power during the testing and sealing of vote counting machines (VCMs) which will take place over a five-day period ending May 7.

In its first advisory, DOE instructed gencos must make sure that their power plants are providing enough energy to meet the demand and required reserves to the power grid. 

The Energy department also said that gencos must hold off from conducting preventive maintenance and testing activities one week before and after the elections. 

In another advisory, DOE told the grid operator NGCP to make sure that there are sufficient reserves or ancillary services which the nationwide grids can tap into. 

NGCP must also hold off from conducting maintenance and testing works on its substations and transmission lines a week before and after elections, with the exception of "extreme emergency cases."

The privately-led grid operator is also in charge of ensuring the grid's stability during the testing and commissioning phase of the 668-megawatt (MW) GNPower Dinginin Unit 2, a coal-fired power plant. 

In its third advisory, DOE said DUs or power providers are required to ensure that voting areas and canvassing centers are receiving enough power.

Manila-based policy group Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) maintained its projections that power interruptions may take place during the summer season, which includes the critical elections day on May 9, if coal-fired power plants remain offline. 

Earlier this year, ICSC released an analysis based on NGCP's previous power outlook that the Luzon grid will have "sufficient, but thin reserves" in the months leading to elections and thereafter. In its report, the group said it discovered that the Luzon power grid may go on red alert, and consumers may experience "high electricity and rotating blackouts." 

During a red alert, rotating power interruptions may take place.

The DOE has maintained that the Luzon and Mindanao grids will have enough reserves before, during and after elections, but noted that the Visayas grid, at its afternoon peak, may lack the required reserves during this period, citing the latest power outlook from the NGCP in a presentation on April 1.


NGCP says all set for elections

In a separate advisory on April 7, NGCP said it is ready to activate its overall command center for the national and local elections from May 8 to 10. 

It also said its own contingency are in place to "monitor and immediately address any grid disturbance."

"NGCP will issue advisories on the power situation every four (4) hours, which may vary depending on the situation on the ground. Despite the declaration of May 9 as a special non-working day, NGCP’s critical units, particularly system operations and operations and maintenance, will remain fully staffed and operational," it said in an emailed statement.

It is all the more urgent to secure adequate power supply as elections draw closer. 

Spotty energy supply will undermine the polls' credibility, ICSC senior policy advisor Pedro Maniego Jr. earlier said. The failure of the electrical power system during the polls may also cause the failure of the political power system if the voting results are not accepted by the public, he added. 
 

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