Luzon-wide blackouts under probe

THE House committee on energy will investigate the alleged regulatory delays in the installation of new power plants that could soon trigger Luzon-wide rotating blackouts.

“The House resolution enabling the energy committee to conduct the inquiry is ready for filing. We will file it on July 1 – the first day of the new Congress,” said Makati City Representative Luis Campos Jr., a deputy minority leader.

“We have to avert the approaching shortage if we want the economy to grow at the optimal annual rate of 6.5 percent or higher and create enough new jobs in the years ahead,” Campos said.

“The incoming Congress has to look into the supposed regulatory issues that have set back the construction of additional power plants,” Campos said.

Campos was responding to the warning issued by San Miguel Corp. (SMC) that Luzon could face “rotating blackouts” starting next year until 2022 due to holdups in the setting up of new power plants amid rising demand.

“We are going to face rotating blackouts in 2020, 2021 and 2022,” warned SMC president Ramon Ang.

“There is already a looming shortage that is why (electricity) prices in the spot market are high,” Ang said.

Ang said the construction of extra power plants in the pipeline since 2016 has been stalled by regulatory risks, including delays in the issuance of the required environmental compliance certificates.

SMC, through SMC Global Power Corp., is one of the country’s the largest power producers with at least 4,200 megawatts (MW) of capacity.

SMC Global Power alone has pending projects with an aggregate capacity of at least 1,500 MW that have been mired by regulatory issues.

Since January, the Luzon grid has been on red alert 11 times and on yellow alert 27 times due to scheduled maintenance and unplanned power supply disruptions, among other reasons.

A red alert indicates that the grid has a severe power deficiency, while a yellow alert means that the grid lacks reserves to cover possible sudden supply deficits.

According to the National Grid Corp.’s power situation outlook as of 6 a.m. Monday, June 10, 2019 the Luzon grid had 11,781 MW in capacity versus 10,862 MW in projected 12 noon peak demand, for a reserve of 919 MW.

The Visayas grid had 2,303 MW in capacity versus 2,116 MW in projected peak demand, for a reserve of 187 MW.

The Mindanao grid had 2,288 MW in capacity versus 1,762 in projected peak demand, for a reserve of 526 MW. (PR)


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