4 firms help Visayan Electric avoid brownouts in Metro Cebu

File photo
File photo

POWER distribution utility firm Visayan Electric has secured 23 megawatts (MW) of spare capacity to be used on red alerts, when power reserves are minimal, after four major industry operators in its franchise area signed up for its Interruptible Load Program (ILP).

“This significant load will lessen the possibility of implementing rotational brownouts among Visayan Electric customers during times when power interruptions are inevitable to ration limited power supply in the grid,” Visayas Electric said in a statement.

SM Prime Holdings Inc., Radisson Blu Hotel Cebu, J. King and Sons Company Inc. (Club Ultima), and Lucky Group Management and Development Corp. (Gaisano Country Mall) forged a one-year partnership agreement under Visayan Electric’s ILP campaign on Tuesday, May 30, 2023.

These companies pledged to “de-load” or reduce their power consumption during peak demand hours, allowing them to contribute to the overall grid stability. In return for their cooperation, these companies will be compensated by Visayan Electric.

Visayan Electric recorded a 600 MW peak demand in May in its franchise area, which covers four cities (Cebu, Mandaue, Naga and Talisay) and four municipalities (Liloan, Consolacion, Minglanilla and San Fernando) that some 1.73 million people call home in Metro Cebu.

“ILP is a good program. We hope more big power users avail so it can reduce Visayan Electric’s power load and avoid rotating brownouts for the general public,” said Charles Kenneth Co, president of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, on Tuesday, May 30, 2023.


The Aboitiz-led power distributor revived its ILP campaign in May this year, urging companies and industry players to participate in the ILP to ensure adequate power supply and lessen the possibility of implementing rotational brownouts in its franchise area following the warnings issued by the Department of Energy (DOE) early this year of possible yellow and red alerts in the Luzon and Visayas grid, as well as forecasts of an El Niño.

Earlier this month, business leaders in Cebu expressed concern over potential power shortages in the Visayas grid following the yellow alerts in early May, as power outages result in the loss of productivity, which eventually leads to loss of revenue.

Co suggested the revival of the ILP to augment the supply and help offset the effects of a possible shortfall from the grid.

The yellow alerts were declared because of the high demand for electricity vis-a-vis low reserves amid the hot dry season.

Last May 24, state weather bureau Pagasa placed the probability of the El Niño weather phenomenon occurring at 89 to 94 percent from June to December 2023, “with higher chance of El Niño persisting up to the first quarter of 2024.”

El Niño makes it more likely that there will be below-average rainfall, which might cause dry spells and droughts. The heat raises demand for electricity to power cooling and other appliances.

Peak demand

As of Friday, May 26, the available generating capacity in the Visayas stood at 2,361 MW with a system peak demand of 2,076 MW, causing an operating margin of 285 MW, according to the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP).

ILP is a voluntary, demand-side management program led by the DOE and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) where business customers of a distribution utility with at least one MW power demand, sign an agreement that they will temporarily de-load from the grid and use their generator sets in critical times of red alerts or when the power supply is low and cannot meet the demand.

A yellow alert is declared when the supply available to the grid falls below a designated safety threshold. If the supply-demand balance deteriorates further, a red alert is declared, warning consumers of rolling brownouts.

When a red alert is declared, NGCP can instruct Visayan Electric to implement rotating power interruptions to distribute the limited power supply.

Visayan Electric assistant vice president for customer services Daryl Bonbon thanked the companies for their voluntary involvement in the ILP, highlighting the importance of working together to make sure the Visayan Electric franchise area is ready when there are power supply issues.

SM Prime Group assistant vice president for engineering and design development operations-Visayas and Mindanao Earl Ledonio, meanwhile, expressed his enthusiasm to once again be part of the distribution firm’s interruptible load program.

“SM has always been supportive of Visayan Electric’s ILP ever since it started way back in 2013, and we would like to thank them for reaching out to us and for giving us this opportunity to give back to the community,” he said.

Visayan Electric expects more commercial and industrial players to participate in its ILP campaign.

Previous ILP activations

ILP was first introduced in the Visayan Electric franchise in 2010. The power distribution firm last implemented it in 2015 when there was a power supply concern after a generating plant’s emergency shutdown.

A total of 28 business customers enrolled with the ILP at that time, with a total of 68 megawatts of power requirement.

Previous ILP activations averted brownouts from affecting hundreds of thousands of Cebu households.

Among the utility firm’s customers who were formerly enrolled in the ILP were Apo Cement Corp., SM Malls, Waterfront Hotel, Ayala Center Cebu, Metro Gaisano, Elizabeth Mall, Chong Hua Hospital, and Robinsons Cybergate.

Currently, however, since most of the businesses and industries that enrolled in the ILP with Visayan Electric in 2015 have already qualified for the Retail Competition and Open Access (RCOA), new tripartite agreements have to be signed to now include their respective Retail Electricity Suppliers.

RCOA allows any establishment or company with an average monthly peak demand of at least 500 kilowatts for the preceding 12 months to decide which electricity suppliers to source power from, the ERC said. (with CTL)


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