No blackouts during summer – DOE

Philstar

April 27, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Energy (DOE) has assured the public of sufficient power supply during summer and the following months, citing the lesser consumption of the business sector due to the imposition of community quarantine.

Mario Marasigan, chief of the DOE-Electric Power Industry Management Bureau, said there was less power consumption during the community quarantine.

“Based on our assessment, the consumption continues to decline. We will not be able to reach the projected 11,841 peak,” Marasigan said during a hearing of the joint congressional energy commission.

He said the only challenge is maintenance.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian, chair of the joint commission, stressed the importance of having a stable power supply in the National Capital Region (NCR) and the rest of the country in the wake of the vaccine rollout being implemented by the government.

“We would like to hear from the DOE if power disruptions cannot be avoided and what are the contingency measures the DOE has in mind. On top of that, we also want to hear from the regulator – the Energy Regulatory Commission – what are the policies and resolutions to avoid these types of disruptions,” said Gatchalian, who presided over the hearing.

“Is it correct, we will not experience any blackout this April, May, June and onwards because of community quarantine?” Gatchalian asked, to which Marasigan replied: “No sir.”

Gatchalian said the hearing was meant to clarify issues regarding the country’s power demand and supply outlook for the summer.

Sen. Nancy Binay asked Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi whether the setting up of ancillary service plants or providing necessary support to the primary activities or operation of an organization would increase the price of electricity.

Cusi replied in the affirmative, saying the country has to have those ancillary reserves for a steady supply of energy.

“For those ancillary services, there is a cost we have to accept. No investor will put out those plant without generating revenue to recover that investment. The question is, do we need that? What is the cost if we don’t need that? There is a higher cost if we don’t. We have an electricity market and the prices are spiking,” Cusi said.

Lower power rates

Customers of the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) enjoyed lower power rates in the first quarter of the year as average retail rates dropped by P0.29 per kilowatt-hour (kwh) compared to the same period last year.

The average retail rate amounted to P7.82 per kwh in the first quarter from P8.11 per kwh during the same period last year, according to Meralco FVP and regulatory management head Jose Ronald Valles.

“The decrease in retail rates was attributed to the 5.6 percent decrease in generation charge, owing to the implementation of the new power supply agreements in February, lower WESM (Wholesale Electricity Spot Market) rate and fuel prices and the peso appreciation,” Valles said.

Lower generation and transmission costs and the systems loss over/under-recovery rate refund approved by the ERC resulted in a 21.04 percent reduction in system loss charge.

The FIT-Allowance recorded a nine percent drop, resulting in lower FIT-All rate since January, compared to the same period last year.

Transmission charge posted a 0.5 percent decrease due to the ERC-approved transmission over/under recovery implemented since the start of the year.

Meralco, however, saw a 7.1 percent uptick in distribution charge to P1.54 per kwh owing to the shift in customer consumption due to quarantine protocols.

Residential sales went up, while non-residential operated at lower load factors, which led to higher residential sales share in the first three months compared to the same period last year.

Valles said that with the residential distribution rate higher compared to other customers, higher residential sales result in a higher overall average rate.

Power cost in Metro Manila – which tracked its lowest level in March – significantly contributed to the easing of inflation rate in the NCR. – Danessa Rivera

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