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Disappointing and frustrating

09:02 AM April 24, 2019

The call of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) for “prudence” in the use of electricity following the unexpected outage of the 150-megawatt Unit 2 power plant of SMC Consolidated Power Corp. in Limay, Bataan province, on April 11 (“Rotating brownouts bring early ‘calvary’ in Luzon,” 4/13/19) is at the very least very disappointing, frustrating and simply unacceptable.

For a company considered to be the “jewel” in the power industry, being the only transmission utility in the Philippines with a national franchise, and which has a crucial role in the efficient delivery of electricity all over the country, such response shows a dire lack of appreciation of its sole responsibility to ensure the security of electricity supply, including guarding against shortages in case of unexpected plant outages, such as the one we’re facing this summer.

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Precisely for such eventuality, consumers are made to pay a monthly transmission charge called “ancillary services.” This is supposed to enable NGCP to automatically tap its contracted power plants to secure continuing quality and reliable electricity supply. The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) allowed the imposition of fees for ancillary services supposedly to ensure NGCP’s viable operation in performing a public service.

Equally disappointing and frustrating is the response of the Department of Energy (DOE), which asked for a mere explanation. The Electric Power Industry Reform Act gives the DOE sufficient powers to “ensure the quality, reliability, security and affordability of the supply of electric power,” which can be done by reviewing the power supply contracts of generation companies with NGCP and distribution utilities. This, the DOE, together with the ERC, can do by conducting a regular physical audit of the various plants in the country to check their physical condition and ensure that they are still fit to render sufficiently the intended public service.

We, therefore, call on the Joint Congressional Power Commission to create the much-needed committee composed of upright electrical and mechanical engineers, accountants and lawyers, for the purpose of conducting an investigation and audit of the physical conditions of these plants, and recommend the necessary action to be undertaken within six months.

PETE L. ILAGAN,
former president, National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms Inc.,
[email protected]

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TAGS: department of energy, DOE, Epira, Inquirer letters, NGCP, Pete L. Ilagan, Power shortage, Power supply
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