2-hour brownouts seen starting in March 2015
At the kick-off of the Malampaya shutdown by March 2015, electricity consumers must also prepare themselves for more than two hours of rotating brownouts if the government and the power industry players would fail on the short-term power supply solution path.
This is the stern warning sounded off by Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho L. Petilla, as he noted that the availability of power plant capacities in Luzon could be reduced to just 9,000 megawatts from dependable capacity of 11,469MW.
The energy chief reiterated there is high probability that Luzon will be distressed with power outages from March until May with capacity deficit forecasts ranging from 240 to 270 megawatts.
“It will be red alert…shortfall is 240 to 270MW, within that range, it will start in March because of the Malampaya shutdown,” Petilla said.
The rolling brownouts, he said, will likely last for “2.5 hours in Meralco (Manila Electric Company) franchise and other areas.”
The gas production facility will be on maintenance downtime for one month next year primarily to tie-in the second platform for the field.
But Petilla said that can be averted with the anticipated entry of the two-unit power plant of First Gen Corporation which could yield capacity addition of 200MW for the grid’s supply.
This can be complemented by the continuing decision of the distribution utilities, like Meralco, to tap into the capacities of the self-generating entities under the interruptible load program (ILP); plus an intensified appeal to consumers for energy conservation.
Petilla averred that as far as Malacanang is concerned, invoking Section 71 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) to grant President Aquino emergency powers to solve the electricity supply crisis will only be done as a final course of action when everything else fails or if there are no more options left on the table.
“The President was very clear on this, the government will only invoke Section 71 as a last resort,” the energy secretary qualified.
The conditions for the ‘emergency powers’ option, he said, would come “after I’ve thoroughly consulted all stakeholders to ascertain who can actually add capacity or who can verify the figures.”
Petilla disclosed that President Aquino has “stigma” about emergency powers, because it will not only be his decision that matters, but it will also involved the entire Congress.