DOE considers separate power outlook for Panay

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

The Department of Energy (DOE) is looking into issuing a separate power situation outlook for Panay Island due to higher demand levels.

“We have already directed the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines Inc. (IEMOP) since they are the ones that can determine the increase in the demand for power,” DOE Undersecretary Rowena Cristina Guevara told Daily Guardian on Monday, July 8.

Guevara noted that while IEMOP forecasted a 6.6 percent electricity demand increase for the Visayas in the first quarter of this year, Panay Island alone saw around a 13 percent rise.

The Regional Development Council of Western Visayas (RDC-6), in its Development Plan 2023-2028, highlighted that the region’s energy sector faces ongoing issues that hinder efforts to make energy more secure, affordable, and resilient.

In 2022, the RDC-6 passed a resolution enjoining the DOE to generate a separate annual power situation and outlook for Western Visayas, considering that the provinces in the region are not contiguous and the location of Panay Island is at the end of the grid.

Meanwhile, Guevara added that the DOE is also studying the establishment of a “zonal reserve” for the Visayas region to improve the power system’s reliability and prevent the recurrence of prolonged power outages in the future.

“We are studying zonal reserves for the Visayas since it is composed of big islands and the transfer of energy is sometimes at risk,” she said.

“By having zonal reserves, we can have additional generation capacity to rebalance the power system following random disturbances,” she added.

Through this, the DOE will place strategic reserves of energy resources to be allocated and managed within specific geographic zones in the Visayas region.

These reserves are maintained to ensure a stable and reliable energy supply, especially during emergencies, disruptions, or peak demand periods, according to Guevara.

Guevara said that though the establishment inevitably means an increase in the cost of electricity, she assured consumers it will reduce the instances of power outages.

She further assured the public that the prolonged power outages that struck Panay Island twice in less than a year have “low chances” of occurring again considering the full operation of the 450-megawatt Mindanao-Visayas Interconnection Project (MVIP) and the stage 3 of the Cebu-Negros-Panay (CNP) project.

The MVIP unifies the three major power grids – Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao – into one grid.

CNP phase 3 involves the construction of 230 kV transmission line facilities from the Barotac Viejo Substation in Iloilo province to the Cebu Substation. Its completion is seen to ensure resiliency and operational flexibility in power transmission on the islands of Visayas.

When asked what could possibly cause a day-long outage on Panay Island, Guevara said it would only happen if there is “a cut in the transmission line.”

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