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No power crisis, DoE assures

Department of Energy (DoE) officials yesterday assured there is no looming power crisis that would hit the Philippines despite the series of power outages that hit Luzon recently.

At the organizational meeting of the Senate committee on energy headed by Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, DoE Secretary Alfonso Cusi told Senate probers the DoE is already taking steps to ensure there is sufficient supply to avert a power crisis.

Cusi, however, said the power outages that happened last July 26 to Aug. 5 can be attributed to the May 9 elections, noting that at least 11 power plants were forced to undergo maintenance shutdowns simultaneously since they were forced to postpone their scheduled maintenance operations.

“According to our study, due to the May 9 elections, some plants had to postpone their maintenance. So, nagpatung-patong … nagsabay-sabay ang maintenance because the plants cannot stretch anymore their operating schedule,” Cusi said at the initial hearing.

The Luzon grid was placed on red and yellow alerts due to thin reserves following the maintenance shutdowns. Cusi assured the grid is now back to normal level.

“Normal level na tayo nga-yon…A normal alert level (means) that we have sufficient supply to cover all the reserves requirement,” Cusi later told reporters in a press briefing.

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP), system operator of the nationwide electrical transmission and sub-transmission system, affirmed the NGCP was given the mandate to make sure there would be no power interruptions before, during and after the May 2016 elections.

“There was a directive that there should be no power outages during the elections,” NGCP Assistant Corporate Secretary Ronald Concepcion told senators.

Jose Vicente Salazar, chair of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), also told the Senate panel that the power outages were due to technical problems encountered at the Luzon power plants. This includes boiler leakages, defective parts, and low water level in hydroelectric power plants. (HANNAH TORREGOZA)