The Philippine power grid continues to be under severe strain, with 21 of the 30 days of May 2024 being placed under red or yellow grid alerts. 

Sustained high peak demands due to elevated heat conditions have significantly contributed to the tight power supply experienced in the past few months, but this only tells part of the story: the tight power supply across the country’s power grid is also largely driven by the forced outages of multiple power plants. 

A visual representation of the total capacity lost and the number of power plants that went offline each day during the month of May.

A total of 30 baseload power plants, all of which are powered by either coal or natural gas, experienced unplanned outages in the last month. The large capacity of a single power plant unit means that the outage of even just a few plants can have a major adverse impact on the grid and power supply.

These outages fall outside the Grid Operation and Maintenance Program (GOMP)-approved outage schedules of these coal power plants, exacerbating the power supply issues during this critical period. Many of these plants are also approaching, or have already exceeded, their allowable outage days limit as mandated by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC). 

A graph depicting the outage days of baseload power plants in relation to their age.

These baseload power plants experience the same issues regardless of age: of the baseload power plants that have experienced outages in May, nine are less than 10 years old. The 121MW PCPC U1 plant in Concepcion, Iloilo, which has been unavailable for over 107 days this year, is one of the country’s newer baseload power plants at only eight years old. 

On June 1, a red alert was raised over the Luzon grid and rotational blackouts were experienced across the island from 10AM to 10PM as power providers resorted to manual load dropping. Traditionally, weekends have lower demand, reducing the likelihood of grid alert levels. However, the forced outages of large baseload power plants have exacerbated the country’s power issues and disrupted this pattern. 

These issues continue to highlight the vulnerability of the Philippines’ heavy reliance on a centralized, baseload-heavy power grid. Addressing the power crisis requires an urgent need to transition to a more flexible and distributed power generation mix, including renewable energy sources,  to help ease the country’s power woes and ensure energy security for all Filipinos, especially in the midst of extreme climate events.