The government has asked local officials to join the Earth Hour celebration and encourage their constituents to switch off lights from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. tonight (Saturday) to send a strong and urgent message on the need for collective action to address climate change.
This developed as the Department of Energy assured the public on Friday there would be no “red alert” warnings on the country’s power supply for the entire year.
Energy Undersecretary Rowena Guevara said only “yellow alerts” are expected to be raised in different parts of the country.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources urged Filipinos to observe “Earth Hour” on March 25 in support of the global efforts to protect the planet and fight climate change.
The DENR also enjoined its regional and field offices, bureaus, and attached agencies nationwide to switch off the lights for this year’s event, which carries the theme “The Biggest Hour for the Earth.”
The Department of Health also encouraged Filipinos to join the rest of the world in observing Earth Hour on Saturday.
Started in Australia in 2007, the annual Earth Hour has become the world’s biggest grassroots environmental movement spanning over 7,000 cities and 180 countries and territories.
This year’s Earth Hour activities in the country will be held at Quezon City Circle, Quezon City.
The DOH, together with the World Wide Fund for Nature-Philippines (WWF-Philippines), said the annual event takes the initiative of generating awareness to help address the climate crisis and promote measures that help reduce energy consumption through the one-hour switch-off.
Interior Secretary Benhur Abalos, as the Vice-chair for Disaster Preparedness of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, encouraged all provincial governors, city and municipal mayors, and village leaders to embark on Earth Hour activities that are aligned with the new global action plan for nature for the coming decade.
In a memorandum circular, Abalos prodded local government units to mobilize their constituents to participate in the Earth Hour activities in their respective areas.
He also encouraged LGUs to mobilize the private sector within their jurisdictions to be one with the government in observing Earth Hour by switching off their signage lights or some of their lights in their facilities, as the business operations will allow.
A red alert is raised when there is an insufficient power supply, which could lead to outages, the DOE said. A yellow alert, on the other hand, means thin power reserves which may not lead to rotational brownouts.
The official said they expect power demand to reach 13,125 megawatts this year in Luzon alone.
“Due to forced outages or scheduled outages or shutdown of power plants, it’s possible that we will have 15 yellow alerts this year in Luzon, but we will have zero red alerts. This could go down to 15 yellow alerts due to a possible additional 250 megawatts in Visayas, and a liquified natural gas terminal in Batangas could provide 1,200 more megawatts,” Guevarra said in a televised briefing.
There will be no yellow or red alerts in Visayas during the daytime, the official added, even as the island group requires up to 2,690 megawatts of power supply.
This is different at nighttime though, as Visayas may expect up to 5 yellow alerts, she said.
In Mindanao, peak demand may reach 2,395 megawatts, but no yellow or red alert would be raised even during the hot season.
Backups are ready in the event that power plants experience forced or unscheduled outages, she said.
“Those are scheduled and generators agreed on when. There should be none in the summer. But if there is a forced outage, we need to run our so-called diesel power plants, battery energy storage system, and natural gas power plants,” she said.
Guevara also noted that new plants would be added to the power generation mix. New transmission lines would also be opened to address congestion in the distribution of energy.
“We expect our renewable energy sector to bring in around 1,000 megawatts this year. They may also yield battery storage energy systems. The Mindanao-Visayas interconnection project will transmit 450 megawatts of power from Mindanao to Visayas, and possibly up to Luzon,” she said.
The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) earlier warned that the entire month of May may be under yellow alert, with the agency saying the conditions could worsen if there are unexpected plant outages.
The DOE’s projection factors in a forced outage of 500-600 MW but based on historical data, there were instances when the grid lost more than 4,000 MW of power supply due to emergency shutdowns which according to the NGCP, cannot be predicted.
“Let us unite with the rest of the world in caring for our one and only home, Mother Earth. Simply turning off your lights is a big help to reduce the effects of climate change,” said Abalos of the Department of the Interior and Local Government.
Abalos said this year’s global movement provides the platform to urgently promote the advocacy of addressing the planet’s biggest environmental challenges.
“We need to take urgent and decisive actions now to save the planet for our sake and the sake of future generations,” he said.