Contingency plans in place to prevent Mindanao grid disruption on Election Day

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 12 May) -– The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) has put in place contingency measures to monitor and address disturbances that may disrupt the Mindanao grid on Election Day, NGCP communications and public affairs officer Michael Ligalig said.

Ligalig said in a text message that an Integrated Disaster Action Plan (IDAP) had been created to ensure the readiness of all power transmission facilities during important national events.

A lineman repairs an electrical line along Diversion Road in Buhangin, Davao City. MindaNews file hoto by Ruby Thursday More

“With its security and contingency preparations set, NGCP can ensure reliable power transmission services before, during, and after the election date,” he said.

Ligalig assured the NGCP’s critical units such as the systems operations and operations and maintenance would be fully staffed and operational despite the declaration of May 13 as a non-working day.

“Line crews, engineers, maintenance and testing, and other technical personnel are also strategically positioned in NGCP substations to respond to line tripping, should these occur,” he said.

As of 6 a.m. on Sunday, the Mindanao grid recorded 2,247 megawatts (MW) of power supply and a peak demand of 1,535 MW, leaving the island with 712 MW in supply excess.

The Department of Energy issued  Department Circular 2018-05-0014 last year, creating the Energy Task Force Election to ensure adequate and reliable energy supply before, during, and after elections.

The task force comprises DOE, National Electrification Administration, National Power Corporation, National Transmission Corporation, Philippine National Oil company, Power Sector Assets & Liabilities Management Corporation, National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, and Manila Electric Company as the members of the core group.

The ETFE has eight members, which include the National Electrification Administration, National Power Corporation, National Transmission Corporation, Philippine National Oil Company, Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corporation, Philippine Electricity Market Corporation, National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, and the Manila Electric Company. There are six other supporting organizations that are also onboard.

The Task Force will also work closely with the national security group composed of the National Security Council, Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Bureau of Fire Protection, and the Philippine Coast Guard.

On the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA) executive director Romeo Montenegro said international research firm, Sapere Research Group Ltd (Sapere), is expected to complete its market readiness assessment for the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM) in Mindanao by September 2019.

“Sapere will assess the reliability of market operator’s new market management, registration and settlement systems, including hardware and interface with System Operator, using detailed readiness criteria,” Montenegro said.

He added the holistic readiness report of the research firm would be submitted to Department of Energy (DOE) for consideration in declaring the start of commercial operations last quarter of 2019.

He said the research firm had been undergoing consultations with the stakeholders, energy players, and big load users in Mindanao to come up with the needed data to come up with a comprehensive assessment and evaluation of Mindanao’s readiness for market-operated power industry.

The WESM Mindanao will be managed by the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC).

Montenegro added the WESM’s regulatory dimension, particularly the price determination mechanism is still pending with the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).

“There has been an ongoing exchange on this in terms of those that had been opposing the implementation of WESM and on the part also of the government particularly by DOE, in terms of rolling out the implementation of WESM. These are all part of that expected democratic exercise of getting the opinions of both sides to be able for ERC to come up with a guided decision and ruling in so far as WESM,” he said.

According to Montenegro, the power industry has been seeing a number of criteria and conditions for Mindanao to transition from contract-based power supply to a market-operated regime such as the excess in supply and the need to attract more renewable energy investments, which can “be made viable even more with the availability of renewable energy market.”

Montenegro said most of the electric cooperatives (ECS) had been undergoing capacity buildings, conducted by DOE and National Electrification Authority, to “make sure that ECs in Mindanao will eventually transition towards actively participating in the market because what is important to point out in the message is that, the market is there so that electric coops will have flexibility in terms of tapping capacities another than their long-term bilateral contracts.”

“Most number of ECs are already coming to terms with the reality that they really need to transition towards being ready for eventual market implementation,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/ MindaNews)