by Angelica Y. Yang | April 28, 2022| Published by | READ THE STORY HERE

MANILA, Philippines — Manila-based policy group Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) stood by its power outlook for the 2022 elections, warning anew that power interruptions may take place during and after polls as baseload coal-fired power plants continue to go on unplanned shutdowns.

ICSC earlier forecasted that there will be tight power supply during the second quarter, with a chance of a red alert status- which may cause rotating power outages- across the Luzon power grid.

In an emailed statement on Thursday, it said it is standing by its projections.

“Last January, the Department of Energy (DOE) highlighted that the key to averting the looming blackouts during and after the election period is to strictly follow the approved Grid Operating and Maintenance Program (GOMP),” ICSC Chief Data Scientist Jephraim Manansala said.

“The latest data shows that the GOMP is not being followed as multiple coal plants still experience unplanned shutdowns,” he added.

Data collected by ICSC showed that 12 of 23 coal plants in Luzon have experienced shutdowns after March 25, while two were reported to be offline since yesterday.

The GOMP contains information about the schedule of the planned and maintenance outages of power generation facilities. Power plants, excluding hydropower facilities, are not allowed to conduct maintenance shutdowns during the summer months so that there will be enough power supply, DOE Undersecretary Felix William Fuentebella has said.

In a separate statement, the Philippine Independent Power Producers Association, Inc. (PIPPA) said that its members have committed to follow the GOMP and that they have “accelerated” the maintenance schedules of their power plants ahead of the elections.

Four coal plants exceeded outage limit
Two years ago, the ERC issued a resolution which puts a cap on the outage days for coal-fired power plants in a year.

Pulverized coal power plants are allowed to have 44.7 days of shutdowns, while circulating fluidized bed coal plants that have newer technologies can only have 32.3 days of outages.

Four coal plants located in Batangas have already breached the yearly outage limit of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) in the first four months of the year, the ICSC said.

These facilities are:

  • Semirara Mining and Power Corp.’s Calaca Unit 2 in Batangas- 118 days
  • South Luzon Thermal Energy Corporation’s (SLTEC) Unit 1- 33 days
  • SLTEC Unit 2- 86 days
  • Southwest Luzon Power Generation Corp. (SLPGC) Unit 2- 59 days

The group also noted that Aboitiz Power Corp.’s GN Power Dinginin Unit 1 in Bataan, the newest and biggest coal plant that will provide power to the Luzon grid, experienced several forced outages earlier this year.

“If these coal plants continue to experience unplanned shutdowns in the following weeks, the possibility of blackouts during the elections will be much greater as we predicted last February,” Manansala said.

The DOE earlier ordered members of the power industry— including generation companies, the grid operator and distribution utilities— to ensure sufficient power during the elections on May 9.

Earlier this month, the department said it does not expect yellow alerts- which signify thinning reserves- to hit the Luzon power grid and Mindanao power grids on May 9. DOE Director of the Electric Power Industry Management Bureau Mario Marasigan, however, pointed out that the Visayas grid, in its afternoon peak performance, may experience yellow alerts on the same day.

Stable power is required to transmit polling data.

Unreliable energy supply will undermine the credibility of the polls, ICSC senior policy advisory Pedro Maniego Jr., earlier said. The failure of the electrical power system during the elections may cause the failure of the political power system if the public does not accept the results, he added.

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