THE Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) said the possibility of blackouts during election season should spur the government into undertaking demand-side management activities to ensure power supply and avoid questions about the credibility of the May elections.
At a virtual briefing on Wednesday, ICSC Energy Transition Advisor Alberto R. Dalusung III called on the government to start preparing the market for demand-side management measures as such a course of action is “the quickest to implement” among the realistic options, such as requiring solar rooftops and encouraging industrial firms with their own generating facilities from drawing power from the gird.
“The Department of Energy (DoE) has to make an assessment what else that needs to be done and I suppose things like triggering the interruptible load program where industries do not consume from the grid, but use their own generation,” he said.
“It’s important that even the general public participate. If you can reduce your consumption particularly during 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., during the peak in Luzon… the proper choices (can help ensure more power supply),” he added.
On Wednesday, the think tank reiterated its earlier projection of a power shortage around the time of the elections on May 9 as well as the vote count. It expects rotating blackouts if some power plants have to shut down.
“From the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines’ (NGCP) official power outlook, the thin operating reserves will start on the third week of April until the last week of May,” ICSC Chief Data Scientist Jephraim C. Manansala said during a virtual briefing.
Mr. Manansala said that if baseload coal plants remain shut down during these months, forced outages could deplete the operating reserve and could trigger rotating brownouts.
“Blackouts will only occur if the operating reserves are depleted below the grid requirements,” he added, noting that two coal-fired power plants with a total combined capacity of 423 megawatts (MW) are currently shut down.
Over the weekend, the grid operator placed the Luzon grid on yellow alert, signifying thinning power reserves, after seven power plants suffered forced outages.
Nazrin Camille D. Castro, manager of nonprofit organization The Climate Reality Project, said “unreliable electricity supply will undermine the credibility of the elections.”
“We will expect power outages on election day, like previous elections, which will cast doubt again on the whole electoral process due to the delay of the casting and counting of ballots. It happened several times before, so there should be no excuses (if it happens) again,” Ms. Castro said.
Ms. Castro noted that household consumers have the highest share of total energy consumption at 31%.
“If all consumers would chip in and practice energy efficiency during these peak hours, I think it would be a big help during these seasons,” she said.
Mr. Dalusung said that urging the consumers to manage their usage “can’t be done unless there are cues from the government that it has to be done to ensure credibility in our elections.”
Last week, the DoE issued an advisory to government agencies to conserve energy as fuel prices rose, to ensure adequate supply during the May elections.
The DoE had called on the public to observe Earth Hour, noting that shutting off non-essentials resulted in a savings of 65.32 MW nationwide.
The savings included 35.26 MW in Luzon, 15.3 MW in Mindanao, and 14.76 MW in the Visayas, the DoE said.
“We hope to sustain this reduction through consistent energy efficiency and conservation practices. The first step is to be mindful of our energy consumption habits, especially during periods of high demand such as this summer,” Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi said previously in a statement. — Marielle C. Lucenio