MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Energy (DOE) reiterates its call for the government to engage in limited power generation to provide reserves under tight power conditions, following the implementation of rotating outages last week caused by several power plants forced out.
During a Senate hearing on the brownouts last week, Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said the agency wanted the green light from the legislature on its various proposals to remedy the situations of electricity shortage.
“First, to allow the government to engage in limited power generation, not to compete with private companies but rather to increase the need for power supply when needed,” Cusi said.
“For example, government power plants are best for grid reserve capacity because they will be out of competition for electricity supply,” he said.
The DOE is seeking the assistance of the Senate Energy Committee, because Republic Law 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Law (EPIRA), a law enacted in 2001 that removed the government the role of managing power plants and privatized the power sector, may require amendment. .
This was proposed by the agency during a Senate hearing in April, when it assured that there would be no brownout this year, except for any forced out power plant.
But last week, Luzon’s grid experienced rotational outages due to unplanned power plant shutdowns, mostly coal-fired plants, with at least 4,000 MW lost to the grid – including 2,000 MW due to the forced shutdown. and unforeseen from several plants.
But at the same hearing, the Energy Regulatory Commission said there was no explicit provision in the EPIRA that prevents the government from putting power plants back into service.
“In our opinion, what EPIRA is demanding is the privatization of the generating assets of National Power Corp. We cannot find an express provision prohibiting the government from engaging in the generation, ”said ERC President Agnes Devanadera.
Devanadera cited the Philippine National Oil Co. (PNOC), the power arm of the government, which has production projects with the National Irrigation Administration and a hydroelectric project from Rizal to Pampanga.
“The decision that may have to be taken by the executive (…) is whether or not to finance the construction of production facilities. But as far as the provision expressed is concerned, it is the ERC’s observation that there is no such ban, ”Devanadera said.
Meanwhile, the DOE is also asking the Senate committee to consider using other sources of power for base load, such as nuclear.
Cusi said it would be subject to technical and security factors. “And if it is deemed feasible and feasible, authorize the same thing that Congress may deem appropriate.”
“Nuclear power is being used in other Asian countries due to technological advances, the risk involved can now be better managed,” he said.
The DOE is also pushing Congress through the Senate to further harmonize environmental, investment, and energy laws to avoid conflicting interpretations and attract investment.
Despite the implementation of the Energy Virtual One-Stop Shop (EVOSS) law, Cusi said other agencies were not acting in harmony “due to certain laws restricting them.” – Cécile Suerte Felipe