Dec 072014

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Energy (DOE) has so far enlisted 593 megawatts of capacity for the Interruptible Load Program (ILP) although this remains below the 1,000-MW target capacity needed to prevent blackouts in the summer of 2015.

The DOE continues to appeal to big power users to offer their capacity for next summer.

“It will be highly appreciated if companies can express commitments to ILP on or before Dec. 31, 2014,” the DOE said in an advisory issued over the weekend.

As of Dec. 5, 141 companies had signed up for the program, according to the DOE advisory.

These include 105 retail electricity suppliers or RES with total capacity of 402 MW and 36 Meralco customers with total capacity of 191 MW, bringing their combined capacity to 593 MW.

Retail electricity suppliers are entities authorized by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to sell, broker, market or aggregate electricity to the contestable market which consists of a group of end-users that have an average peak demand of one megawatt (1 MW) for 12 months.

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Under the ILP scheme, big power users will be asked to run their own generators when supply is short in the summer months, instead of getting their power from the Luzon grid. In exchange, they will be compensated for their fuel costs.

The electricity that would not be taken from the grid would be available to households and other users, sparing them from rotating blackouts.

The ILP is the option that Congress is eyeing to avert next year’s looming power shortage instead of the DOE’s proposal to lease or purchase generator sets.

Still, Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla is optimistic that the ILP would solve the problem.

But Congress has yet to pass the joint resolution that would provide President Aquino special powers to tap additional capacity for next summer.

Power distributor Manila Electric Co. (Meralco) also continues to negotiate with its big customers to enlist in the program.

There is a projected power shortage in the Luzon Grid of at least 700 MW in the summer of 2015 due to higher demand during the hot months.

President Aquino has asked Congress for special powers to invoke Section 71 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) to tap additional power capacity for the summer months through the lease or purchase of generators.

However, Congress has thumbed down the proposal and is looking instead at the ILP as the main measure to solve next year’s power woes.

Power generators themselves are lukewarm to the idea of the government leasing or purchasing generator sets.

Instead they are offering their excess capacity for the government’s ILP.

The SM Group, for instance, has offered 57.96 MW, the biggest capacity from a single entity, among a list of 36 companies that have already signed up.

The AboitizPower, the power generation company of the Aboitiz Group, also expressed its support to the government program.

To date, AboitizPower has enlisted over 70 customers to the program, 38 of which are contestable customers of AboitizPower’s RES companies with a total available capacity for ILP of 96 MW.

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