“We need an assurance from those responsible that this would not happen.”
The threat of power outages — which has been an issue for the longest time — in the Philippines — is here upon us again. Just this month, the Department of Energy warned the Luzon power grid could experience problems during election day because of unforeseen outages of power plants.
With the threat of brownouts on the horizon for the Luzon region, it is unfortunate that millions of Filipinos will suffer disruption in their daily lives, whether it be through having no internet connection or being unable to run their businesses.
But if there will be brownouts during election day, it’s likely people could panic at the thought of voting machines encountering technical issues.
The issue has raised the alarm bells for some sectors in our society. For example, the Management Association of the Philippines, one of the country’s most influential business organizations, released a statement pitching solutions to avert the threat of power outages.
One of the suggestions raised is to have the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines procure as much power supply reserves as it can and to link power plants that have not been connected yet to the grid.
However, MAP’s suggestion may not come to fruition because of the NGCP’s neglect in preventing a power crisis.
This refusal stems from an ongoing squabble between DOE and NGCP over the latter’s refusal to comply with a circular issued by the former. Last year, the DOE issued a circular that required various players in the energy sector (including NGCP, which is responsible for transmitting power to households) to follow regulations when procuring ancillary services.
For those who may not have much of a background in energy, AS are simply back-up power supplies meant to be released in areas with low supply of electricity. On paper, this means that if there are enough AS procured, we would no longer have any brownouts in the Philippines.
Initially, NGCP was about to do its part as it initially announced that it would procure AS under a bidding process. However, in February, the company abruptly postponed its plan without providing any explanation at all.
After that, NGCP told DOE to stop forcing it to comply with the DOE circular because the company claims the government agency has no supervisory authority over it. NGCP made this move despite public clamor that it should procure power supply reserves in the future.
Because of NGCP’s inaction, the company is highly unlikely to meet yesterday’s deadline to present a framework on how it will conduct its bidding process for AS. That means NGCP will be unable to do its part to procure power supply reserves for the Filipino public.
As for MAP’s suggestion for NGCP to connect as many power plants to the grid as soon as possible, it looks like history is against their side.
NGCP has a history of delaying the completion of transmission projects. For example, a look at projects undertaken from 2009 to 2019 showed that only 37 out of 155 transmission projects were completed in Luzon.
What’s troubling is that out of the 37 completed projects, only 7 were completed within the timeframe NGCP set for itself.
With brownouts looming in the Luzon region, there will be people pointing fingers at each other again as to who should be blamed for this problem.
However, with how things have happened, it is clear that NGCP’s inaction contributed to these problems.
We really would love to hear from the NGCP regarding this matter, plus an assurance from the DOE we will have a brownout-free elections on May 9.